Port Shepstone

 

hcm logo 200Port Shepstone is situated on the mouth of the Mzimkulu River, the largest river on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

The town, named after Sir Theophilus Shepstone of the Natal government of the 1880s, is situated 120km south of Durban and houses all the provincial government departments and is the seat of the Ugu Regional Council. It is also the educational and commercial centre for the southern part of the province.

The Ugu district municipality is bordered by the eThekwini municipality in the north, the uMgungundlovu and Sisonke district municipalities in the west, the Eastern Cape province in the south and the Indian Ocean in the east.

The discovery of marble in the area in 1867 led to the early development of the town. Some 13 years later a harbour was built to stimulate trade and commercial development, and it was here where a small party of Norwegian immigrants aboard the Lapland landed in 1882. They were to play a major role in developing the town and its surrounds.

With the help of their English and German counterparts, the Norwegians established tea and coffee plantations and also began farming sugar. In later years, indentured labour was brought in from India to work on the plantations.

However, a railway line linking the harbour in Port Shepstone to the commercial hub of Durban built in 1901 was to bring a premature end to operations at the harbour.

Over the years, it fell into disuse and the river silted up. The 27 000 candela cast iron lighthouse that was erected in 1906 still stands at the mouth of the Mzimkulu River. One can still explore this unique lighthouse today.

The infrastructure is well developed with many recreational and shopping facilities, schools, clinics, and hospitals. The town council has initiated its own development company and local business service centre to stimulate new developments, business and employment opportunities, especially in the tourism sector.

Its industries include a sugar mill, a lime works and a marble quarry. Timber, wattle bark and sub-tropical fruit are produced in the district.

Port Shepstone boasts unspoiled sandy beaches with warm waters rich in marine life. The 18km of coastline and stretches of rolling surf are ideal for surfing, ski-boating and jet-skiing. And on the Mzimkulu, which means the “home of all rivers”, there’s river rafting, boating, canoeing, windsurfing and water skiing.

Inland one is able to explore the 24km long Oribi Gorge and there are an abundance of hiking trails through beautiful scenery.

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