Our little village has a great history

Brief History:

After the breakup of the Zulu Kingdom after the Anglo-Zulu War, Sir Garnet Wolseley created 13 ‘kinglets’ – with two strategically located as buffer zones between Port Natal and Zululand. One of these kinglets was John Dunn who used Mtunzini as his capital.

In 1948, 9 square kilometers of dune forests, lakes and lagoon at Mtunzini was proclaimed a nature reserve known as the Umlalazi Nature Reserve. This area falls under the protection of the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (previously known as Natal Parks Board). The Umlalazi Lagoon is a popular tourist attraction for watersports enthusiasts and fishermen alike. Recreational and commercial ski-boat fishermen also launch their boats in the lagoon to head for the Indian Ocean via the mouth of the Umlalazi River.

In 2002 Mtunzini became a landing point for the SAFE state of the art Optical fiber Submarine communications cable, linking Melkbosstrand to the West with Saint Paul (Réunion), Baie Jacotet (Mauritius), Cochin (India) and Penang (Malaysia).

In 2009 Mtunzini became a landing point for the SEACOM cable, and in 2010 Mtunzini became the landing point for the EASSy cable.


Mtunzini is a bird watchers paradise and is renowned as one of the few places where one of South Africa’s rarest birds of prey, the palm-nut vulture, is found. These birds feed on the fruit of the raffia palm which produces its fruit once every twenty years before dying. Visitors can enjoy a walk through the lush vegetation at the Rafia Palm Monument, which features a raised boardwalk that meanders through to the magnificent palms.

Mtunzini boasts, among other attractions, pristine beaches, a 9-hole golf course at the Mtunzini Country Club, Event and Guest Houses, numerous bed-and-breakfast establishments as well as a range of camping, caravanning, and other self-contained holiday accommodations. The beach is not protected by shark nets due to Mtunzini’s proximity to a shark breeding ground populated by Zambezi sharks as well as many others. This fact notwithstanding, the waves at Mtunzini are described by surfers as being some of the better ones to surf on the North Coast.

More History
No other person embodied the turbulent times in which they lived more than John Dunn, the legendary hunter, trader and white chief of Zululand whose activities spanned three crucial decades in the history of Zululand.

Dunn was born of Scottish parents in 1824 and grew up in the rough and ready spirit of early Port Natal (now Durban) but at the age of 18, he moved with his young bride Catherine into the unexplored territory north of Durban.

On one of his hunting trips into Zululand, Dunn met Cetshwayo – the heir apparent to the Zulu kingdom – and was invited to settle in Zululand and become the prince’s advisor.

Dunn agreed to the offer and was made Chief of the fertile coastal area known as Ongoye – stretching from Thukela River to the Mhlatuze River in the north – and he increasingly adopted the culture and customs of the Zulu.

Against the disapproval of his wife, Dunn married his first Zulu wife in 1861. Over the next few decades he ended up taking 48 Zulu wives. He was careful to heed Zulu marriage rituals and customs and paid ilobolo (bridewealth delivered by bridegroom to his in-laws) of between nine and 15 head of cattle to the fathers of the brides. For breach of rules, several of his wives were banished from his household and two wives found guilty of infidelity were sentenced to death and executed in accordance with Zulu law.

He is credited with having sired at least 117 children.

The close bond between Dunn and King Cetshwayo strengthened over the years and Dunn rose to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful chiefs in the Zulu kingdom through his ivory and gun trading.

Dunn’s own economic well-being depended on a policy of peace with the British colony of Natal but with the inevitability of war, Dunn’s influence over Cetshwayo diminished and the king and his advisors came to view his motives with suspicion.

Dunn tried to negotiate a position of neutrality for his chiefdom but the British warned him that he would lose everything in a British-controlled Zululand.

On Old Year’s Night 1878 Dunn and his family, 2 000 supporters and over 3 000 head of cattle were ferried across the Thukela into British Natal. A few days later – his fortunes plummeting rapidly – Dunn offered his services to the British. His first task was to brief the British on the terrain of his former chiefdom. He took in the war for the first time at the Battle of Gingindlovu.

Following the defeat of the Zulu army at Ulundi and the arrest of Cetshwayo, the British divided the kingdom into 13 independent chiefdoms and appointed men amenable to British administration, including Dunn who was given back his former chiefdom with increased powers and twice as much land. In the late 1880’s Britain annexed Zululand as a British colony and Dunn unhappily found himself once again under colonial rule.

He eventually washed his hands of all involvement with the British government and retired to spend out his last years as a cattle farmer. His health deteriorated and after a brief illness he died on 5 August 1895 at his farm Emoyeni outside Mtunzini at the age of 71. He was survived by 23 wives and 79 children.