Town with a rich history, popular with holidaymakers from across the country, has potential for investment
These days Port Edward might be a small resort town, known for its seasonal holidaymakers drawn from across the country, but its historical relevance predates the Dutch arrival at the Cape by a century and the area is credited with being the site of the first documented interaction between local inhabitants along the KwaZulu-Natal coast and foreign cultures.
It is also famous for the Red Desert, reputed to be the world’s smallest desert, measuring 11ha in its entirety. It is an internationally protected heritage site, described as a miniature version of the Arizona Desert.
In 1552, on its return from the East Indies, the Portuguese ship São João became the first cargo ship to be wrecked on the South African coastline, running aground near modern-day Port Edward.
One hundred of her 600 passengers died in the wreck and only 21 of the survivors reached Lorenzo Marques (now Maputo) to find a passage home. The shipwreck was found in the 1980s and the Portuguese Monument erected at Splash Rock, Port Edward, in 2002.
Annually, the Port Mariners Food and Wine Festival, part of the Sardine Festival, commemorates the lives lost on this notorious coastline. Commercially, there are a number of tourist seasons influencing Port Edward, the most significant being the six-week Christmas-New Year period.
Silver Beach hosts an annual New Year’s Eve party, while New Year’s Day sees families populating the beach for continued celebrations. The annual sardine run from late May to mid-July offers another boost, with tourists seeking a glimpse of the unique natural phenomenon.
Situated 150km south of Durban and as the last town before crossing the Umtamvuna River into the Eastern Cape (formerly Transkei), Port Edward has also long operated as a “border town” supplying the rural surroundings.
Founded in 1986 by the Mattison family, the Ricroy Trust has been among the more extensive commercial property investors. The trust’s David Lewis says it has diversified into the improvement of the area through the development of local commercial, industrial and storage properties along the lower South Coast.
Included in the Ricroy Trust developments is Mac Lane (a complex of 12 upmarket commercial, office and shop units), Mattison Square Centre (10 commercial or shop units), Harrow House Centre (10 commercial, office or shop units), Strawberry Lane (18 commercial, office or shop units) and Ramsey Corner (seven commercial, office or shop units).
There is a variety of commercial initiatives on the market, including a 20-unit resort, available this week. The holiday guest lodge and resort boasts three-bedroom units and open-plan living areas set in lush tropical gardens surrounding a communal pool.
The main building houses the reception area, office and laundry, as well as the twobedroom manger’s flat. The asking price for the property is R3.825 million. Vacant land with commercial rights in Colebrook Street came on the market for R175 000 last month.
Measuring 1 775m², the prime property promises investors the opportunity to develop a restaurant, guest lodge, shops or offices. The fairly level site is on a tarred road.
Last year, a caravan park site came on to the market for R4.45m offering investors an opportunity to redevelop the land or to continue operating the flourishing business.
Places to get accommodation, to eat and to buy supplies
Port Edward Holiday Resort
The Port Edward Holiday Resort boasts breathtaking views over the Indian Ocean for visitors seeking inexpensive self-catering holiday accommodation in chalets or caravans. Previously the Port Edward Police Resort, the facility was established in 1947 for the boys and girls in blue. It was built using police-force donations and became one of the most popular holiday destinations on the KwaZulu-Natal lower South Coast. While privatised, the facility’s heritage comes from the SAPS in honouring the contributions it makes to the nation.
Part of the food wholesaler group Masscash, Saverite Supermarket was established in 2008 and has grown locally and in neighbouring countries. The chain leverages off the Masscash muscle to ensure competitive pricing for franchisees and uses the Masscash footprint of over 70 wholesalers to distribute its products.
The Barn Owl Bistro
The popular bistro restaurant offers great coffee, all-day breakfasts and reputedly the best milkshakes on the lower South Coast to patrons daily until 2 am (except Thursdays). Its barn owl mural makes it distinctive.
NGP Guest House
Established in 2009, this guest house in the heart of Port Edward offers patrons bed-and-breakfast accommodation in luxury surroundings.
Amos Hardware focuses on building materials, catering to every building and construction requirement. It promises sound deals on electrical and plumbing supplies; roofing; timber; bricks and blocks; tiling supplies; paint; tanks; aluminium doors and windows, hardware and tools.
Holidaymakers offer many opportunities
Land for development
Port Edward has both vacant land for development and older properties which can be redeveloped to accommodate the tourism industry and retail demands. As the last town before crossing into the Eastern Cape, Port Edward has long been a “border town” supplying goods to residents in the less developed rural areas to the south.
As a quintessential holiday destination, the opportunities for establishing tourism-based commercial ventures are endless. These can include boutique shops, restaurants, fast-food franchise outlets and deep-sea fishing initiatives.
The proximity to a particularly rural region of the Eastern Cape, as well as the vast number of unemployed local residents, means there is a substantial supply of unskilled and semi-skilled labour available to businesses.
The town offers residents and visitors a broad range of amenities, including schools, doctors and dentists, as well as entertainment beyond the beach. Tranquil seaside living Investing in Port Edward promises an escape from the city bustle into a quiet seaside town where life operates just a little more gently and the pleasure of knowing neighbours offers a sense of community.