The ultimate guide to a day in KwaZulu-Natal’s magical Midlands

Posted by Robyn Simpson on 7 January 2022

Durban’s beaches are undisputed. Warm water, prime waves, and pristine views stretching from Salt Rock to the South Coast and beyond. While many tourists flocks to the sea, we’re letting you in on a little secret that’s worthy of a fabulous day trip: The Midlands.

Lesser known to beach-hungry visitors, this picturesque part of KZN is so much more than just a drive-by on the way to the coast. Divine eateries, renowned galleries and countryside views are all but a few reasons to spend the day here.

The inland area starts from Pietermaritzburg and ends before the Drakensberg mountain range. Located around 115km from Ballito, it’s the perfect place for a weekend away, an overnight stay, or a unique day trip.

1. Experience the Ardmore pottery studio

Pieces made by Ardmore artists are iconic. Vibrant colours and distinctly South African details are handcrafted by locals right in the heart of the Midlands.

The establishment is all about community and fostering arts and culture. Ardmore provides sustainable employment for over 70 people, who all come together to create some of the most intricate pottery, decor and homeware items around.

The experience is one for the eyes and the soul. Each piece is unique to the artist’s hand and provides purpose and a means for the people who create them. The environment is simply magical and the Ardmore family is truly warm and welcoming.

Located on a stunning premise, visitors can stroll from the studio – walking amongst the artists as they work – through to the gardens, to the Ardmore shop which stocks fabulous goodies. The Ardmore gallery, home to the actual pottery, is separate from the shop, which stocks other takeaways including everything from Ardmore-printed fabrics to clothing.

2. Delight in Blueberry Café

Blueberry Café, part of Netherwood Farm, has to be one of the most gorgeous eateries in Natal. It’s light, open, and has the beautiful Drakensberg mountains as its backdrop. Visitors will be greeted by great Nguni cows and adorable alpacas that roam the vast property. Better yet, you can check them out from the loo-with-a-view.

The ethos of ‘farm-to-fork’ is at the core of the property, which houses other restaurants, too. The Netherwood Farm takes pride in curating its menus sustainably and in support of as many local suppliers as possible.

Blueberry Café is known for its impeccable cheesecake, try it out!

  • Location: Netherwood Farm, R103, Nottingham Road, KZN Midlands.
  • Website:

3. Visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site

Picture: Matthieu Gillet/Flickr Commons

The intriguing sculpture of Nelson Mandela at the Capture Site, just over the road from where Madiba was arrested in 1962, was erected years ago but it was only one month before lockdown that the new visitor centre opened.

The museum’s world-class display begins with the Bhambatha Rebellion and traces the apartheid era, the struggle for freedom and the life of Nelson Mandela, as well as other freedom fighters. It has been superbly curated.

Adults: R100, seniors R60,
Kids: (12–18) R30, under 12 free

4. Make a pitstop at Piggly Wiggly

A day in the Midlands wouldn’t be complete without making a stop at Piggly Wiggly. This beloved location is perfect for friends, families and children with something for everyone to do.

Like a little world of its own, Piggly Wiggly offers a variety of lifestyle destination shops, more than five eating establishments, and plenty of activities. Candle-dipping, ziplining and a cheeky game of putt-putt are just some of the activities to enjoy.

Located on the beautiful property of Highgate Wine Estate, this distinctive outdoor shopping centre boasts gorgeous views of vineyards and the mighty Midlands.

5. Get lost at the Ugly Duckling

The Ugly Duckling is a weird and wonderful affair. Home to everything from pre-loved gramophones to antique furniture and vintage board games, this is a shop worth the stop.

The store is packed to the brim with delights for the eyes, and if you’re not careful, you can get lost in there for hours. This is the perfect place to grab a unique souvenir for yourself or a one-of-a-kind gift for a loved one.

Painted proudly in bright yellow and blue, with its iconic bohemian elephant statue at the entrance, you’ll definitely know when you have arrived.

For more information on all things Midlands, have got you covered.

Pictures: Supplied

Featured picture: Blueberry Café


KwaZulu-Natal: The coast with the most

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