Location: South Africa » Kwazulu Natal » Zululand » Battlefields » Abaqulusi » Mtunzini

Mtuzini is a Zulu word meaning ‘Place in the Shade’. This suitably describes your destination, also aptly called the ‘Jewel of the North Coast Mtunzini is not only special because of the rich natural resources it offers residents and visitors, it also has a pleasant ambience because of the warm and friendly people who inhabit this popular coastal destination. Visiting Mtunzini is always a rewarding experience. What makes Mtunzini so unique is the emphasis placed on conservation. The town has a firm policy focusing on eco tourism, and have thus far always rejected uncontrolled and damaging development. The long stretch of unspoilt beach is ideal for swimming, surfing and angling, but being a dolphin friendly area, no shark nets are in place. All water sports can be enjoyed at the lagoon, which also has ample picnic facilities. Various hiking trails through the indigenous dune forests are located in the nature reserve, and are also accessible from the Mtunzini Chalets. Animals you are likely to encounter include bush pig, bush buck, as well as red, blue and grey duiker. This is also a bird watcher’s paradise with over 300 bird species recorded, including some major prizes namely the Palmnut Vulture has the distinction of being one of South Africa’s rarest birds of prey and is restricted to Zululand and areas further north. The Palmnut Vulture only breeds in coastal forests in the vicinity of raffia palms. They are most likely to be seen at the Raphia Palm Monument and is the raphia palm trees next to Wilderness Avenue. Another advantage of using Mtunzini as your base in Zululand, is the fact that it is in close proximity to a great many other destinations popular with tourists worldwide. With the new toll road, surf city Durban is only an hour away. Richard Bay and it’s impressive new waterfront, is less than 50 km to the north, while the ‘Big Five’ can be visited at the Umfolozi and Hluhluwe Game Reserve just over an hour’s drive from town. Equally impressive is the Mkuzi Game Reserve a bit further on. Along the coast to the north and also within comfortable range are St Lucis, Cape Vidal, Mapelane and Sodwana Bay. Drives of 4 x4 vehicles are also reminded of strict rules pertaining to driving on the beach.

The magisterial district of Mtunzini comprises a small coastal stretch of Zululand, which extends from the Tugela River in the south to the Umhlatuzi River in the north. The Indian Ocean forms the eastern boundary, while the western boundary is formed byt eh Ongoye Hills. The total area of the district is equal to 11 % of the total area of the Republic of South Africa.


How to get there

Durban 132 km, Empangeni 32 km, Hluhluwe 143 km, Richards Bay 48 km

Average Rainfall – 1000 mm per year, during December to February

Average Temperatures – Summer 37°c – 40°c; Winter minimum of 10°c

Banks – Absa (ATM), Fnb, Standard

Mountains – Ongoye Hills

Rivers – Tugela River, Umhlatuzi River


Raffia Palm Monument

The palms now growing at Mtunzini are one of 15 species belonging to the genus Raphia, all but one of which occur in the tropical and subtropical areas of Africa. Only one species of this genus is indigenous to South Africa where it’s natural distribution to South Africa where it’s natural distribution is limited to a small area around Kosi Bay in the extreme northeast of Zululand. The raphia palms R.australis were established in 1916 from seed sent to the Mtunzini magistrate by the Director of Prisons in Pretoria. The existence of suitable swampy ground adjacent to the railway line and the avaibility of prison labour made Mtunzini an ideal location to establish the raphias, the object being to establish a local supply of fibre for the prison’s broom making industry. The progress of the raphia palms at Mtunzini is well documented. The local magistrate at the time, Mr Foxon, reported that the first batch of seeds had been planted on 3 August 1916 and by 3 January 1918 a total of 14 plants were growing. Within a year a sample of raphia leaves was sent to the Director of Prisons in Pretoria. It ws found that the fibre of the leaves was too short to be of use in brush making and the commercial interest ended. In 1925 forests TS Bertram submitted a detailed report to District Forest Officer RC Kotze, that 46 of the seeds were now growing. The palms continued to flourish and in 1942 they were proclaimed a National Monument. In 1948 the original site of the monument was virtually destroyed by fire when a spark from a passing locomotive set the trees ablaze. Fortunately they were able to regenerate and a fine grove of palms may be seen at the site today. Over the last three decades Ian Garland, a well known local conservationist, has made a substantial contribution to the raphia population by planting and distributing almost a thousand R.australis on and around his farm ‘Twin Streams’ which borders Mtunzini. In recent years the local Town Board has played an active role in promoting the raphia palm, which along with the closely associated Palmnut Vulture, has been incorporated into the official town emblem. In 1986 a board walk was constructed over the swamp at the site of the original grove to facilitate viewing of the palms. The Town Board has propagated the trees widely on municipal land and has made the trees available to local residents for their gardens. As a result of these efforts, the palms currently enjoy a secure status.

Umlalazi Nature Reserve

The Umlalazi Nature Reserve is located 1 km from Mtunzini. The reserve was established in 1948 and is 1028 ha in extent.


Hutted Accommodation

There are thirteen five bedded log cabins in the resort. Each cabin has a lounge / dinette, two bedrooms, kitchenette and bathroom with shower or bath. Cost and high chairs are available for children. The cabins are fully equipped. The cabins are cleaned daily by the camp staff. There are no plug points for electric razors.

Camping and Caravanning

The campsites are situated at Inkwazi camp, near the reception areas, and at Indaba camp. Both are five to ten minutes walk from the beach. There are 38 camp and caravan sites with modern ablution facilities. Fifteen amp plug points are also available on site and may be hired at a daily fee

What to do on arrival

All visitors who have reserve cabin accommodation are requested to report to the office by 15:30 on the day of arrival. Visitors who will be arriving late, are requested to contact the office and inform them accordingly.

Recreational Activities

Umlalazi offers several forms of relaxation. Limited water skiing and good fishing are enjoyed in the lagoon, but crocodiles and sharks may be present at times. The beach is popular for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, angling and other water sports, but note htat there are no shark nets. Ski boats are usually launched in the lagoon. Recreational facilities include trampolines, a tennis wall (which is also used as a projection wall for film shows during holiday periods), swings and other playground equipment. Three trails have been laid out in the reserve. There is an easy walk through a mangrove forests. A second walk leads through the dune forest where bushpig, bushbuck and red, grey and blue duiker may occasionally be seen. A third trail leads partly through dune forest and partly through the mangroves along the edge of the river. Wildflowers and a great variety of birdlife can be seen. The Mtunzini area is the home of the Palmnut Vulture, which is one of the rarest birds of prey in South Africa. The observant walker may indeed be fortunate to come across these rare birds, colonies of fiddler crabs and fascinating mud skippers.


Food supplies, beach equipment, medical facilities and supplies, etc. are available in Mtunzini village, 1 km away. Charcoal may be purchased at the office during office hours. Bait (sardines, shrimp and squid) may be purchased at the office during office hours. Boats for use on the river are available for hire from the office. Visitors must bring their own outboard engines. Attractive curios and souvenirs at competitive prices are available at the curio shop. Fuel and oil can be obtained at the garage near the Mtuzini turnoff. A tumble drier is available. No pets are allowed in the reserve. All boats which visitors wish to use in the reserve, must be registered with the KZNNCS before being launched. Visitors participating in boating must have suitable life jackets on board and must wear them at all times. Portable generators are not permitted. Visitors are advised to take precautions against malaria before, during and after a visit to this area. Only those vehicles approved as suitable will be allowed on the beach, subject to a permit being obtained from the office. No unlicensed drivers or vehicles, motorcycles or all terrain vehicles (ATV’s) will be allowed on the beach. Riding on the dunes is an offence. Please note that the accommodation complexes are either not fenced or do not have a totally game proof fence surrounding them. While visitors may enjoy viewing animals from their chalets or campsites, they must bear in mind that all wild animals are unpredictable and potentially dangerous. Do not walk beyond the vicinity of your own chalet or campsite after sunset unless it is essential to do so, and not before you have checked with a bright flashlight that there are no dangerous animals visible. The gates to the reserve open at 05:00 and close at 22:00 throughout the year.

How to get there

Follow the N2 to the Mtunzini turn off, which is 132 km north of Durban. The reserve is signposted at this junction and access to the reserve, approximately 4 km further on, is through Mtunzini village.


Annual Events

Prawn Festival – July



Bird Watching, Fishing, Hiking Trails, Mangroves, Horse Riding, Surfing, Swimming.

Accommodation in and around Mtunzini

One-on-Hely Guesthouse    accommodation in Mtunzini
The beautiful coastal village of Mthunzini is a declared conservancy and home to the Raphia Palm Monument. A navigable lagoon winds through the mouth onto the unspoilt beach. One-on-Hely features the utmost in comfort and modern amenities and is idea... More

Umlalazi Nature Reserve    accommodation in Mtunzini
This lovely coastal reserve is conveniently situated one km from Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. Umlalazi was established as a protected area in 1948 and is 1 028 hectares in extent. Home of the palmnut vulture, which is one of the rarest ... More

Nkawu Cottage    accommodation in Mtunzini
Having left Belgium 14 years ago, my husband and I have finally found the peace and tranquility we were looking for! After moving from place to place, from country to country, we landed in "Mtunzini", "place in the shade" in Zulu... More

Tradewinds Country Inn & Resort    accommodation in Mtunzini
 A quiet country hotel set in the tranquil surroundings of a little town. Tradewinds Country Inn is conveniently located just off the N2 in Mtunzini, Zululand, Kwa-Zulu Natal North Coast. A mere hour and a half drive from... More

Toad Tree Cottage    accommodation in Mtunzini
Toad Tree Cottage is a charming three-bedroom residence set in a large indigenous garden overlooking rolling sugarcane fields outside Mtunzini on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast. The cottage takes its inspiration from the colonial farmhouses of yester... More

One-on-Hely Guesthouse    accommodation in Mtunzini
One-on-Hely Guesthouse offers 4 star accommodation to the discerning traveller. Six bedrooms, all upstairs offering spectacular views over the warm Indian ocean and lush indigenous evergreen forests, with balconies and private entrances. ... More

Xaxaza Park    accommodation in Mtunzini
Situated in the gently rolling hills and only 4 km from the white sandy beaches of Mtunzini and the beautiful Mtunzini river mouth. We invite you to come and enjoy your holiday at our very popular coastal resort where the climate is sub-trop... More

Mtunzini Bed & Breakfast    accommodation in Mtunzini
Set in a spacious garden in the quaint seaside village of Mtunzini our B&B looks out over the rolling, cane covered hills of Zululand and enjoys breath-taking sunsets. Mtunzini is a nature lover's paradise. The clean country air inspires eve... More

Baton Rouge on Sea    accommodation in Mtunzini
Baton Rouge on Sea is an elegantly furnished bed and breakfast. It is situated high on a residential ridge, with spectacular views of the nearby Indian Ocean and Umlalazi Lagoon which is nestled in lush coastal forests. Enjoy breakfast on the patio, ... More

Tree Top Cottage    accommodation in Mtunzini
A fully furnished three bedroom, second floor self catering cottage in a garden in Mtunzini. The cottage is an independent unit away from the main house. The spacious cottage sleeps eight, with two bedrooms with double beds, and the third with two si... More

Directory of accommodation in Mtunzini