Known as ‘the place of shade’, Mtunzini is a coastal town in Zululand, perched on a hill overlooking the beach with a beautiful dune forest and an estuary lined with mangrove swamp forest.
The entire town was declared a Conservancy in 1995 and has received awards for its commitment and contribution to preserving the natural environment. The streets of Mtunzini are lined with indigenous trees that provide food for a large variety of birds and stands of Raphia palm attract the Palmnut Vulture, South Africa’s rarest breeding bird of prey – found only here and at Kosi Bay. Three to five pairs of the bird breed in Mtunzini. The fruits of the Raphia palm form an important part of the bird’s diet.
The name, Mtunzini, comes straight from the Zulu word ‘Emthunzini’, meaning ‘in the shade of the umthunzi tree’. In this case, it refers to one specific tree – John Dunn’s Milkwood tree. John Dunn became Cetshwayo’s diplomatic adviser around 1856, after resigning his post as assistant to the British Border Agent. In return for his position, he received a large stretch of land, roughly today’s equivalent of Mtunzini.
The town received a Conservation Award in 1999 for the outstanding commitment and contribution to preserving the natural environment of KwaZulu Natal and has also been awarded a Green Trust award. The town has cleared alien weeds and rehabilitated the natural forest areas, providing a natural beauty and attracting local birds and wildlife back to the town.
Mtunzini is fisherman’s paradise and a beautiful place to relax. A 40 km stretch of beach and birding and bush trails make this a haven for bird watchers and nature lovers. The mangrove swamps, estuarine mud flats, coastal dune forest and open grassland provide different habitats and over 300 bird species have been recorded in the area.
The climate is sub-tropical with winters never cooler than 17º Celsius, making Mtunzini a perfect destination all year round.