KwaZulu-Natal’s “Little Germany” – New Hanover, Wartburg and Harburg – welcomes you
The next time you leave Gauteng or Mpumalanga for KwaZulu-Natal but you really aren’t looking forward to braving the crazy traffic on the N3, try the slightly quieter route via Standerton, Volksrust and Newcastle instead. From here, continue on the N11 for a short while, then turn left onto the R68 to Dundee. Here, head south on the R33 in the direction of the slightly neglected and taxi-overridden Greytown, and then, 74km further, Pietermaritzburg lies waiting.
The countryside around you changes gradually and the road twists and turns through a fairy-tale landscape, almost forming a tunnel through the sugarcane fields or pine, blue-gum or wattle plantations that cover the rolling hills. Yes, you’ll probably drive a bit more slowly, because instead of inconsiderate truck drivers, on this road you will find ancient bakkies that just prt-prt-prt along to some or other little exit road. But that doesn’t matter, because your heart is beating more slowly and the world is beautiful.
Then, 37km after Greytown and 37km before you’d get to KZN’s capital city – exactly on the halfway mark along the road so familiar to many a sales rep – you’ll come across New Hanover, also known as Nieu-Hanover in Afrikaans or Neu Hanover in German.
The German influence in this area strong but you won’t hear German spoken around you, nor is English spoken with a German accent. For although the German roots run deeper than those of any of the blue-gum trees you see around you, and they reach further than the sugar-cane fields that melt into the blue sky on the horizon, up to hamlets such as Wartburg, Harburg, Schroeders, Kirchdorf, Lilienthal and Hermannsburg, the majority of the Germans in these parts have been anglicised.
NEW HANOVER Place of the meat eaters
You could easily make a dash along the litter-strewn main road, passing the imposing municipal building and the even more grandiose Home Affairs building, to finish the remaining 37km to Pietermaritzburg, but it’s worth your trouble to turn right at the Total garage instead.
This is where you can partake in the usual leg-stretching activities: go to
In sugar-cane country a stretch of grassland is hard to find. To reach this rare beauty, turn off the R33 onto the York road, then take the gravel road towards the plantations. It’s commonage that offers views of New Hanover (to the right of the diamond-shaped plantation) and Wartburg (on the horizon, further on).