8 things to do in Howick

Posted by Matt Sterne on 20 March 2019

Howick, in the KZN Midlands, began as a crossroads between the coast and the interior, but over the years it’s been a magnet for stories as well as for travellers.

Midmar Dam is Howick’s playground, surrounded by a nature reserve, with many places to camp and picnic beside the water.

Do this 

1. Visit Howick Falls. The biggest drawcard is right in the centre of town and can be admired from the viewing platform. A nearby museum offers a history of Howick.

2. Do the Karkloof Canopy Tour. Shoot through mist-belt forest on 10 zip lines. The longest is 200 metres. There are plenty of forest birds, but your screams will probably ensure you don’t see them. Tours take about two hours. R650 pp. 033-330-3415 Visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site. The famous linear sculpture of Madiba’s face can be seen here, and the museum currently has a temporary exhibition on his life’s journey. A new exhibition hall is scheduled for opening in February. It’s 6km out of town on the Lions River road. Free entry. 033-330-8195

3. Get active at Midmar Dam. Besides paddling and boating, visitors can walk or cycle around it (Midmar Boat Hire rents out the toys you’ll need). The dam is in a nature reserve, so there’s also game viewing, or you can picnic or braai on its banks. Entry R40 per person.

4. Explore the Midlands Meander. Howick is the start
of SA’s original arts-and-crafts route, where visitors will find anything from cheeses and metalwork to wind chimes and handmade leather shoes. midlandsmeander.co.za

5. Piggly Wiggly is also on the Meander but worth singling out. What started as a farm stall is now a ‘country village’ of 30 outlets, offering such delights as a candle-dipping factory and a chocolate shop, plus it’s on Highgate Wine Estate. Go for the Farmer’s Breakfast (R79) at Piggly Wiggly Coffee Shop. 0332342911

Eat here

6. The Farmer’s Daughter on Shafton Road, with a fine view of the Umgeni River Valley, is a local hang-out for breakfast and lunch. Menu favourites are the pork-belly burger, Chinese sticky pork ribs, breakfast brisket burrito and black-bean burger. Meals from R100. 0333302958

7. Il Postino Pizzeria & Wine Bar is a much-loved spot on the Dargle road. There are 40 flavours of thin-based pizza
to choose from, or make your own. Tuesday is half price; on Fridays there’s a live band. Pizzas from R120, pastas from R100. 072-905-9390

8. Tumble Downs, on the Curry’s Post road, is a cafe by day and restaurant by night. Converted from stables, with lovely views of Karkloof Valley, it has high- beamed ceilings and crackling fires, and an air of laid-back sophistication. The double-stack beef medallions with bacon and mushrooms is a winner (R148). 0828022837

Stay here 

Amber Avenue is an old farmhouse 2,5km from Howick. Comfortable and stylish, it has five doubles and a family room, as well as a pool, tennis court and a walking trail to the dam. From R495 pp. 082-374-9003, amberavenue.co.za

St Ives Lodge has wildlife such as zebra and wildebeest on its 140-hectare grounds in the Lions River valley. Guests can braai in a lapa at the dam, go for walks, swim in the pool or hang out in the Boma Bar. Rooms are well-furnished and have fireplaces. From R545 pp. 033-234-4490, stives.co.za

Old Kilgobbin Cottages
sit atop a hill in Dargle beside indigenous forest. Guests are encouraged to walk on this large farm, where you may encounter wildlife. There are two lovely options with fireplaces – The Chicken Coop sleeps two, Gobbins’ Cottage sleeps six. From R345 per person. 0828077772, oldkilgobbin.co.za

Getting there

Take the N3 from Durban; after an hour (104km) take Exit 107 to Howick.

Where do the locals go?

Bundy Shaw, retired farmer ‘Other than Howick Falls, there are two equally magnificent waterfalls in the Karkloof area, the Grey Mare’s Tail and Karkloof Falls. I highly recommend both.’

Jethro Bronner, adventurer ‘Steampunk Cafe is a popular local hang-out – the coffee is great and the staff are lovely.’ R103, Lions River (no phone).

Sphe Dladla, reserve supervisor ‘You must go to Karkloof Farmers Market for coffee and fresh fruit (Saturdays 7–11am), and have a braai at the bottom of Howick Falls.’

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