What You Need To Know

Richards Bay (Afrikaans: Richardsbaai) is a town in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is situated on a 30 square kilometre lagoon of the Mhlatuze River, which gives it one of the country’s largest harbours. Richards bay also has the deepest natural harbour in the Southern hemisphere.

Population: 50,533 (2010)



The town began as a makeshift harbour that was set up by Commodore of the Cape, Sir Frederick Richards during the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879. In 1935 the Richards Bay Game Sanctuary was created to protect the ecology around the lagoon and later by 1943 it expanded into the Richards Bay Park. The town was laid-out on the shores of the lagoon in 1954 and proclaimed a town in 1969. In 1976 Richards Bay harbour was converted into a deep water harbour with railway and an oil/gas pipeline linking the port to Johannesburg.

The South African Government decided in 1965 to build a deepsea harbour at Richards Bay, about 180 kilometres north of Durban. Construction work began in 1972 and four years later, on 1 April 1976, the new harbour was opened. The residential area of Richards Bay developed north of the harbour. Meerensee, started in 1970, was the first suburb. It was followed by Arboretum in 1975 and VeldenVlei in 1980. All three suburbs catered exclusively for Whites in accordance with the existing laws of apartheid. A township for Blacks was developed at Esikhaweni, fifteen kilometres south of Richards Bay. Residential areas for Indians and coloureds were opened after 1985 west of VeldenVlei. All the suburbs of Richards Bay together (excluding the black township of Esikhaweni) had a population of about 20 000 in 1990.

Geography and climate

Richards Bay is characterised by a subtropical climate that very closely resembles a tropical climate as only two months have an average temperature of below 18 °C There are warm wet summers and mild moist to dry winters, which are frost-free. The town has an average annual rainfall of 1228 millimeters (48.3 in). The average annual temperature is 21.5 °C (71 °F), with daytime maxima peaking from January to March at 29 °C (84 °F), and the minimum is 21 °C (70 °F), dropping to daytime highs from June to August of 23 °C (73 °F) and a minimum of 12 °C (53 °F). Sunrise is at 04h45 and sunset at 19h00 in summer. In winter sunrise is at 06h20 and sunset at 17h00. Richards Bay is a popular kitesurfing destination thanks to consistent winds blowing from the North East.

The Richards Bay area is generally very flat and is situated on a coastal plain. The terrain rises slightly towards the west. The suburbs are all no more than a few metres (Reneging around 140m) (feet 459.3 ft) above sea level. The area is abundant in coastal dune forest, most notably along the coastal dune belt and in the suburb of Meerensee.

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