Places of interest in and around Rorke's Drift Lodge

Rorke's Drift

Situated on the Buffalo River, some twenty eight kilometers from Helpmekaar and named after James Rorke is famous for the epic battle which took place there in 1879. The Mission buildings were converted into a commissariat depot and hospital, garrisoned by about 100 men under the command of Lieuts. Bromhead and Chard. On the afternoon of 22nd January,1879 , after a large sector of the British forces at Isandlwana, had been wiped out, news was brought to the little garrison that the "whole" Zulu army was advancing on the post. Immediately steps were taken to put the post in a state of defense. The buildings were loop holed, spaces barricaded with wagons, biscuit boxes and bags of corn flower. Shortly after, the post was fiercely attacked by a large body of Zulus under the command of Dabulamanzi. Repeated attacks during the night were repulsed with rifle and bayonet. The virosity was demonstrated by glowing gun barrels. The hospital was set on fire. Most of the inmates were rescued, with difficulty. The Zulus withdrew early the next morning when Lord Chelmsford arrived on the scene. He found survivors begrimed with smoke, their hands seared and their shoulders black and blue from rifle recoil. A third of the defensive forces had been killed or wounded and ammunition was down to it's last. Eleven V.C.s were awarded.


The name of a prominent hill twenty three kilometers east of Rorke's Drift, on the road to Nqutu. This was the scene of one of the greatest disasters that has ever befallen the British. In addition to some 1350 British soldiers killed, a large number of Zulus also lost their lives in action. The battle was fought on 22nd January, 1879. The Zulu impi of some 25,000 men was under the command of Ntshingwayo ka Mahole Khoza. Six regiments lay in waiting, and were discovered by mounted troop. Immediately they rose, and in a spontaneous movement, advanced on the British camp at Isandlwana. The Mbonambi and Kandapemvu concentrated on a direct attack on the camp, the Nokonke and Dududu regiments worked round to the west of Isandlwana to the rear of the camp, cutting off any possible retreat to Rorke's Drift. The Uve and Ngomakosi carried out a similar movement to the east. About 400 who managed to escaped made their way down the Manzamnyama and crossed the Buffalo at Fugitive's Drift.

Fugitive's Drift

A crossing about nine kilometers below Rorke's Drift, so named from the few who escaped Isandlwana. It was here that Lieuts. Coghill and Melville lost their lives in an attempt to save the Queens colours of the 24th Regiment, Both were posthumously awarded the V.C.

Prince Imperial Monument

Was erected by Her Majesty Queen Victoria on the spot where Prince Louis Napoleon of France was killed in a surprise attack by a party of Zulus. He had served as an assistant A.D.C to Lord Chelmsford. The death of the Prince Imperial probably changed the whole course of European history.


The acre of massacre. In an attempt to relieve the beleaguered town of Ladysmith, Lieut-Gen Sir Charles Warren and his men attempted to capture the hill by surprise under the cover of darkness. His decision was ill-considered. It was only when the sun broke through the mist on the morning of Jan 24 1900 that the British could see the deathtrap they were in. A total of 322 soldiers were killed, 563 wounded and 300 either missing or taken prisoner. A self-guided trail takes you through each stage of the famous battle, past the main British trench, to the Imperial Light Infantry Memorial, and then along the northern crest towards the sombre Boer Memorial..

Battle of the Blood River

Following the murder of Piet Retief and the Weenen massacres, Commandant A. W. J. Pretorius, with a commando of 460 men, and Carl Landman, advanced into Zululand with the object of avenging their countrymen. The two forces met on the banks of the Ncome river. The Voortrekkers gained victory, killing 3,000 of the enemy, with only three men wounded, which included Pretorius. Dingane's Mgungundhlovu kraal was destroyed and he was compelled to take refuge in Swaziland.

Ntshingwayo (Chelmsford) Dam Nature Reserve

Situated on the Ngagane River, south of New Castle/Ladysmith N11 route. The game reserve offers excellent game viewing opportunities, with large herds of Springbok, Blesbok and Red Hartebeest. Also home of the rare and elusive Oribi antelope. The Dam provides various water sports and fresh water fishing.

Fort Mistake

Halfway between Ladysmith and New Castle. This fort was hurriedly built during the period of armistice after the Battle of Majuba (1st Anglo-Boer war). It was to serve as a signal station incase peace negotiations broke down and war resumed. The official name was One Tree Hill and appeared on maps and charts well into the 20th century until it suddenly "disappeared". The name "Mistake" was coined by the locals in exasperation in what they regarded as "the bumbling ways of the British Army". It was proclaimed as a national monument in 1979.


A range of hills running from the north-west to south-east of Dundee and named after Alexander Biggar. A leading figure amongst the British traders of Port Natal. Acted as guide (scout) to Andries Pretorius's Wenkommando on route to the Battle of Blood River (1838)

The Battle of Elandslaagte

One of the early British successes during the 2nd Anglo-Boer War led by general John French. General Johannes Kock and about 700 men were sent to disrupt the rail infra-structure in the area. Their plans were delayed by the lancers.


This became a household word at the turn of the 20th century, when besieged by the Boers for 118 days in 1899. Several fierce battles were fought around the area

The Battle of Wagon Hill 1900

The only serious attempt made by the Boers (Comdt. Cornelius de Villiers) to take the besieged town of Ladysmith. The defense by the "Devon's" took heavy losses, as well as the Boers.

The Battle of Colenso 1899

The first major attempt by the British to relieve Ladysmith. Under the leadership of General Louis Botha, the Boers fought 20,000 of Buller's men and captured guns and munitions.

The Battle of Pieter's Hill

The long awaited breakthrough to re enter besieged Ladysmith. After several attempts by General Buller, success was achieved after a long struggle with the Boers led by General Lucas Meyer.

Thukela Biosphere

The topography of the Thukela Biosphere is diverse, with the veld ranging from large trees with dense canopies along the many rivers and streams to thick acacia scrub and open grasslands. As a result, the area supports a wide and fascinating range of wildlife elephant, white rhino, wildebeest, leopard, warthog, hyena, jackal and numerous species of buck. Bird watchers will revel in the prolific bird life ostrich, ground hornbills, blue crane, crowned crane, bald ibis, vultures, a wide variety of smaller birds of prey, as well as reverine and grassland species. The mild climate of the biosphere also favors reptiles, and visitors will frequently encounter crocodiles, leguaans, a variety of tortoises, terrapins, snakes, lizards geckoes and, on occasion, the magnificent rock python.

Karel Landman's House

A Voortrekker leader lived in this cottage at Wasbank, south of Glencoe from 1852-1875. He was a commandant in the Battle of Blood River (1838).

Battle of Talana On 20 October 1899

The first shots of the 2nd Anglo-Boer War were fired. The news of this battle hit the headlines in Britain, the "Battle of Glencoe", corrected the following day to "Battle of Dundee" and on the third day to the "Battle of Talana." It was on these slopes the British army wore khaki for the first time in South Africa.


Situated on the northern slopes of the Biggarsberg. From the "first" coal in KwaZulu-Natal in the 1850's Dundee became a destination point for many. Steeped in history, to-day, the town plays an important roll as showcase for the region. Talana Museum, situated on the town's perimeter, captures the story of this fascinating place. There are many other interesting places to see in the town itself.

Fort Bengough

A circular stone fort on a small kopje on the left of the road as one approaches the village of Pomeroy from Tugela Ferry. Erected during the Zulu War by Major Bengough of the Natal Native Contingent, and used during the Bambata Rebellion.

The Gordon Memorial

This mission, which is some four kilometers east of Pomeroy, was established in 1870 by the late Rev. Dr James Dalzell under the Free Church of Scotland, since united with the Church of Scotland. The mission takes its name from the surname of the Marques of Aberdeen, who provided the funds from its establishment in memory of a son killed in a gun accident.

Itshe Lamazimu

The name of a large rock mass on the farm Freiburg, about eight kilometers from Helpmekaar, is known as a cannibal haunt from the days of Shaka and Dingane. This particular spot was the headquarters of Ulupalule. On one of the rocks, marks can be seen where assegais and knives were sharpened.

The Kloof

Helpmekaar there is a gorge known as Eweni and source of the ISibindi river. The 2nd highest waterfall in kwaZulu-Natal.

Fort Northampton

The remains of this fort are on the Zululand side of Rorke's Drift, opposite Fort Melville. It was built during the Zulu War, and after being abandoned the buildings were occupied by the first Magistrate of the Nqutu District, the late Mr. R. H. Addison, until he transferred his headquarters to Nqutu in 1894. Some of the old walls are still standing. The nearby cemetery contains the graves of a number of soldiers and civilians.

Piet Retief

Was born of Huguenot parents in 1780, on the farm Wagenmakersvallei, the present site of Wellington. In 1814, at the age of 34, Retief married the widow of Field Cornet Greyling and settled in a frontier district of the Eastern Cape. On joining the Voortrekkers between Thaba Nchu and the Vet River, Retief was immediately chosen as their Commandant General and Governor. In the spring of 1837, and before the Voortrekkers had arrived in Natal, Retief visited Dingane at his Mgungundhlovu Kraal to negotiate for land. Dingane promised to provide, on condition that he recovered certain cattle from a Zulu Chief called Sigonyela. This was accomplished without bloodshed, but on his return to Mgungundhlovu, he and his 70 companions were treacherously murdered by Dingane on 6th February, 1838. In the following December, their bodies were found on a hill about 1,000 meters from Mgungundhlovu and buried. A monument now marks the spot.


The name of Dingane's principal kraal on the farm Moordplaats, and the scene of the murder of Piet Retief and party in 1838.The word means "The Secret Conclave of the King," and is derived from the words ungungu we ndhlovu, a cleverly coined name to commemorate the success of Dingane's plot to assassinate his brother Shaka. The kraal comprised of about 1,500 huts, and was burned by the Zulus after their defeat by the Voortrekkers at Blood River in 1838. Remains of the clay floors and fireplaces are still to be seen.


("He who gratifies or satiates the Zulus"). Was the son and successor of Cetshwayo, and first came into prominence during the disturbances following the restoration of his father in 1883-4 between the Usutu faction, of which he was the head, and the Mandhlakazi tribe under Zibebu. After the Usutu had been decisively beaten by Zibebu at Msebe and oNdini, Dinuzulu sought the aid of the Boers, and with their assistance defeated Zibebu's forces at Tshaneni on 5th June, 1884. It proved a costly venture, however, as the Boers annexed what originally comprised the Vryheid District and Proviso B of Zululand as payment for their services. The Zulus repudiated this claim, and the subsequent settlement by the British Government was also opposed by the Usutu led by Dinuzulu by force of arms in 1888.

For these hostile acts, Dinuzulu and his uncles Ndabuko and Shingane were charged and convicted on a charge of high treason and deported to St. Helena. In 1898 they were allowed to return, and it was then that Dinuzulu was appointed Chief over the Usutu tribe in Nongoma District and recognized as the hereditary head of the Zulu tribe. In 1907 Dinuzulu was again convicted of high treason for being implicated in the Bambata Rebellion and deported to the Transvaal where he died in 1913. He was buried in the Nobamba kraal, then located on the farm Koningsdal No.220 B., a kraal that has been rebuilt many times to perpetuate the memory of the original owner, Senzangakona. The custodian of this kraal is now okaLilabane, mother of Mpembeni, and one of Dinuzulu's widows.

Cetshwayo Zulu and Grave

(The Slandered One). Son of Mpande, was born about 1830. In 1856 he disposed of his brother Mbulazi at the battle of Ndondakusuka, and from then onwards, owing to a weak father, became the virtual ruler of Zululand. In 1861 he was formally recognized by Sir Theophilus Shepstone as Mpande's successor. No Zulu in modern times has achieved greater fame or is better known than Cetshwayo. His troubles with the Natal and British Governments, his disputes with the Transvaal Boers, his " father" Sir Theophilus Shepstone as intermediary, and his eventual downfall, forms one of the most important and colourful chapters in the history of South Africa.

After his defeat at " Ulundi" in 1879 Cetshwayo fled to the Ngome forest where he was eventually captured and exiled to the Cape. Whilst there, he paid a visit to England for the purpose of laying certain grievances before the British Government, and was accorded an interview with Queen Victoria. In 1882 he was allowed to return to Zululand and rebuild his oNdini kraal at "Ulundi," but as the country had been thrown into disorder by the British Government's abortive attempt to rule the country with Thirteen Kinglets, he soon became the object of attack. The quarrel was between Zibebu and Cetshwayo's brother Ndabuko and others. The oNdini kraal was burned and Cetshwayo was compelled to flee to Sigananda's ward at Nkandhla after being wounded. He was later induced to move to Eshowe, where he died on 8th February, 1884, from heart disease. For political reasons his body was removed and buried in the Nkandhla forest at Nkunzana, near the Mome Gorge. The grave is also visible from Bobe Ridge.