Umhlanga, KwaZulu-Natal

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This article is about the town. For the traditional reed dance ceremony, see Umhlanga (ceremony).
View of the skyline and beach of Umhlanga Rocks
View of the skyline and beach of Umhlanga Rocks
Umhlanga is located in KwaZulu-Natal
 Umhlanga shown within KwaZulu-Natal
Coordinates: 29°43′31″S 31°05′09″E / 29.72528°S 31.08583°E / -29.72528; 31.08583Coordinates: 29°43′31″S 31°05′09″E / 29.72528°S 31.08583°E / -29.72528; 31.08583
Country South Africa
Province KwaZulu-Natal
Municipality eThekwini
 • Councillor Heinz de Boer (DA)
 • Total 16.75 km2 (6.47 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 24,238
 • Density 1,400/km2 (3,700/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 17.1%
 • Coloured 2.1%
 • Indian/Asian 26.2%
 • White 53.3%
 • Other 1.2%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • English 78.9%
 • Zulu 9.0%
 • Afrikaans 6.1%
 • Xhosa 1.1%
 • Other 4.9%
Postal code (street) 4320
PO box 4319

Umhlanga is a residential, commercial and resort town north of Durban on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is part of the eThekwini Metropolitan Municipality, created in 2000, which includes the greater Durban area. Commonly and erroneously pronounced (by residents and visitors alike) as Umshlanga (the correct pronunciation of "hl" in Umhlanga is similar to the Welsh "ll"), the name means "place of reeds" in isiZulu.

It is well known throughout eThekwini for the Gateway Theatre of Shopping which is the largest shopping mall in the southern hemisphere.[2] It has a relatively low crime rate and warm beaches which are patrolled by life guards throughout the day.[3] Umhlanga is one of the fastest growing cities in South Africa - the population increased 57.5% from 15,387 in the 2001 census to 24,238 in the 2011 census.


Umhlanga derives its name from the Zulu language and means "place of reeds", referring to the beds of reeds growing along the Ohlanga River north of Umhlanga Rocks.[4][5]

The Oyster Box, a luxury hotel since the 1930s, was originally built as a beach cottage in 1869, before the town had even been founded.

In 1895, Sir Marshall Campbell founded Umhlanga. The town's first hotel was established in 1920, followed by a shop, a lighthouse, the Natal Anti Shark Measures Board (today called the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board) and further hotel developments.[6][7]

The Borough of Umhlanga was formed in 1972 through the merger[citation needed] of Umhlanga Rocks, a seaside resort town, and the suburb of La Lucia.

In the 1980s, development expanded inland.[6] The city is expanding into areas previously covered by the Hawaan forest to the north which is the natural habitat of many creatures such as vervet monkeys often venture into the city in search of food from unsuspecting tourists.

Umhlanga, specifically the former sugarcane fields of Umhlanga Ridge, has become the focus of development in the greater Durban area with many businesses relocating offices from central Durban (similarly to Sandton forming the new centre of Johannesburg), a move that has been criticized for "fragmenting the urban fabric" and furthering "the new apartheid" in Durban.[6] In 2010, Durban International Airport was moved to La Mercy, near Umhlanga, and reopened as King Shaka International Airport. Various skyscrapers are under construction in Umhlanga the most significant of these are the three large apartment complexes, currently under construction, known as the Oceans Umhlanga development expected to be completed in 2016. At a price of R3.1 billion this is the largest private sector investment in South African history. It is being built inland and adjacent from the recently constructed Pearls of Umhlanga.[8]

Umhlanga Rocks[edit]

Lighthouse at Umhlanga Rocks

Umhlanga Rocks has many luxury hotels and apartments right on the beach, including the Cabana Beach Hotel, the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Oyster Box Hotel, the Umhlanga Sands Hotel and Pearls of Umhlanga apartments. Many of these have views of the landmark lighthouse.

Umhlanga Ridge[edit]

Umhlanga Ridge is a new retail, office and residential node situated on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean. It was largely developed on sugarcane land by property development company, Moreland Estates, owned by the Tongaat Hulett sugar group. Located on the ridge are Gateway Theatre of Shopping and other shopping centres, motor dealerships, a private hospital and many offices.

Umhlanga Ridge Town Centre is connected by a series of pedestrian-friendly roads, parks and public spaces. The Town Centre is easily accessed by a network of major roads, including the N2.

The Umhlanga Ridge New Town Centre has been under construction for almost a decade. Vela VKE consulted on the structural input for the design of the grade separation bridge and two parking court structures. Civil infrastructure costs amount to R200 million to date.

Aerial view of Umhlanga Ridge (foreground) and Umhlanga Rocks (on ocean beyond)


Together, Umhlanga and Umdloti form the Sugar Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. Umhlanga in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the greater Durban area which had 7.4 million visitors in 2014, an increase of 12.8% over 2013.[9]

Other places of interest in Umhlanga are the Umhlanga Country Club and The Mount Edgecombe Country Club in nearby Mount Edgecombe.


Umhlanga is very diverse with people from various racial backgrounds and ethnic groups. 78.9% speak English as their first language, 9.0% isiZulu and 6.12% Afrikaans. There is also a sizable Portuguese population.

The number of people from each racial group increased between 2001 and 2011. The number of whites increased from 11,523 to 12,925 while the percentage dropped from 74.89% to 53.33%. The number of Black Africans increased from 1,770 to 4,147. The number of Indians or Asians increased from 1,953 to 6,353. The number of coloureds increased from 141 to 297.[10][11]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]