North Coast – Nonoti Estuary

About the Birding

Situated immediately to the south of the village of Nkwazi, on the North Coast birding route, the Nonoti Estuary provides access to coast grasslands, riverine thicket, and the estuarine and marine environment. The region is rich in species implying that this site is well worth a visit, particularly in the summer months when resident bird populations are supplemented by the arrival of intra-African and Palearctic migrants.

Scan the exposed mudflats at low tide for diverse shorebirds possibly including the Ruff, Sanderling, Grey and Common Ringed Plovers, Little Stint, Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers, Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Whimbrel, and Ruddy Turnstone. The uncommon Eurasian Curlew and both Chestnut-banded and Greater Sand Plovers are occasional in small numbers. The sand spit on the northern bank often supports a large tern roost including the White-winged, Greater Crested, Sandwich, Lesser Crested (late summer), Caspian, Common and Little Terns.

Coastal grasslands support the Croaking Cisticola, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Shelley’s Francolin, and Striped Pipit. In the dense thickets, look for Red-capped Robin-chat, Brown Scrub-robin, Olive Woodpecker, Bar-throated Apalis and both Grey and Olive Sunbirds.

Key species:

Diverse shorebirds, Olive Woodpecker, Brown Scrub-robin

About the Birding Site

The North Coast – frequently also referred to as the Dolphin Coast – extends from the city of Durban to the Tugela River mouth, located immediately to the south of Richard’s Bay. With its distinct subtropical climate, pristine and extensive beaches, and the warm waters of the Indian Ocean – the region is extremely popular among holiday makers. In addition to the rich beaches, the area offers diverse cultural attractions, magnificent golf courses, and extensive nature reserves.

Further afield, the north coast (particularly Durban) is the gateway to the rest of KwaZulu-Natal offering easy access to the Drakensberg mountains, temperate midlands, and Zululand. While much of the region has been transformed into extensive sugarcane fields, the route offers several key sites of interest to birders visiting the area and an impressive checklist of birds including several of South Africa’s most sought-after specials. Among these species are the globally threatened Spotted Ground Thrush, Gorgeous Bush-shrike, Buff-spotted Flufftail, African Finfoot, Red-headed Quelea, and Southern Bald Ibis. Wetland sites on the route also play host to rarities on an annual basis, offering exciting prospects for birders. Key sites along the route include the Dlokwane Forest, SAPPI Tranquila, Otimati, and the St. Kitts Wetlands.

Key species:

Diverse shorebirds, Olive Woodpecker, Brown Scrub-robin

Other Related Information

Travel north from Durban following the N2 freeway. Take the KwaDukuza/Stanger off-ramp and travel north towards Stanger Central. Turn right to follow the R102 north, through New Guelderland. Shortly after the Sanbonani Roadside Lodge, turn to the right and proceed under the N2 freeway in the direction of the Nonoti Estuary.

Notable points of interest include the:
Nonoti Estuary parking area: -29.3108, 31.4061

Other related information:

The nearest towns to the Nonoti Estuary are:
Nkwazi: 12.6km
KwaDukuza: 17km
Durban: 88km

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The nearby Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge offers a number of accommodation options, conveniently situated along the banks of the Zinkwazi Lagoon and serving as a fantastic base from which to explore the surrounding areas. Options include 13 en-suite hotel suits each equipped with twin or double beds capable of sleeping two, lagoon chalets with an open plan living area and fully-equipped kitchenette, and a basic campsite with communal braai facilities and an ablution block. For more information or to make a reservation, please use the contact details listed above.

Other diverse accommodation options are available at Zinkwazi and in the nearby town of Nkwazi. However, the nearest Birder Friendly Establishments can be found within the nearby towns of Eshowe and Mtunzini.

For more information, view:

Local guide information:
A site guide is available through the Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge and outings can be arranged through the reception using the contact details listed above. The nearest BirdLife Community Guides operate out of Mtunzini and Eshowe. For more information, please visit:

Text prepared by:
Daniel Keith Danckwerts (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Tours)

Key species:

Diverse shorebirds, Olive Woodpecker, Brown Scrub-robin

Contact details:

For more information, please contact:

Zinkwazi Lagoon Lodge
Tel: +27 (0)32 485 3344
Fax: +27 (0)32 485 3340