The KwaZulu-Natal Midlands are one of South Africa’s most beautiful and highly sought-after destinations. With rolling hills, beautiful dams and waterfalls and welcoming people, this region is a favourite among solo travellers, couples and families alike.
A great way to explore the Midlands is through the popular Midlands Meander route, which spans between Pietermaritzburg in the east to the majestic Drakensberg mountain range in the West.
A few years back we took a trip from Cape Town to the Drakensberg and Midlands with our 2 kids and spent a week exploring the area and discovering all the best things to do with kids in the Midlands.
The area was entirely new to both of us (as Captonians we have mostly holidayed on the Garden Route) I had wanted to visit this part of SA for a long time and I’m so glad we took an epic road trip and made these memories…
The area is incredibly picturesque with rolling hills full of history and there’s plenty of beautiful places to see and adventurous things to do in the area.
Things to Do in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands (with kids!)
In this post, we look at the top things to do in the KZN Midlands with kids in tow!
1. Soar through the Sky with Karkloof Canopy Tours
Part of the Canopy Tours South Africa, this Midlands-based canopy adventure near Howick provides fun for the whole family.
Built in the beautiful valley of the Karkloof Forest Reserve, Karkloof Canopy Tours is the ideal adrenaline-laced escape to nature.
After a short safety briefing and 4×4 excursion, you start your adventure at the top of Karkloof valley. Here, you will enjoy ziplining across ten slides, with 12 platforms. Safety is paramount so professional, experienced guides are there every step of the way.
As you zip, keep an eye out for the many birds, mammals and natural attractions (including a 200 metre waterfall) found within this gorgeous reserve.
Tours are suitable for people between the ages of 6 and 80+, provided they meet the basic health and safety requirements.
Adults: R595 per adult.
Children (17 years and younger): R495 per child.
Bookings are essential.
Tours run on selected time slots. Please visit their website directly or contact Karkloof Canopy Tours for available time slots and dates.
Tel: +27 (0) 33 330 3415
2. Visit the Beautiful Howick Falls
One of the Midlands finest natural marvels is Howick Falls – and no visit to this uniquely beautiful region is complete without setting your eyes upon these majestic falls.
Some 95 metres in height, this cascading waterfall, situated on the Umgeni River, is a sight for nature lovers and travellers alike to marvel at.
Best of all, there are three different nature walks you can take to reach the falls. The official trail is Howick Falls Gorge Walk, which begins at Harvard Street and ends near the seat of the falls.
Plan an outing and spend time marvelling at this beautiful natural attraction first-hand. While you are in the area, why not explore more of Howick a bit too?
Free to visit.
Open to visitors during daylight hours.
Tel: +27 (0) 83 969 6243
3. Explore Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve
Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, otherwise referred to as WESSA Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, is a beautiful place for all ages to explore.
Situated one kilometre from Howick at the base of Howick Falls, Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve allows you to escape to nature.
There are a number of self-guided walks that lead you through the gorge below Howick Falls. As you explore, you may even be lucky enough to see some of the resident wildlife (which includes zebra, giraffe and a variety of antelope) and birdlife.
2021 Season – Annual Ticket:
Single adult: R350 per ticket.
Two adults: R450 per ticket.
Family of Five: R650 per ticket.
Pensioner ticket (x1): R250
Two pensioners: R325 per ticket.
Tel: +27 (0) 33 330 3931
4. Pop in to Nottingham Road
One of the most popular towns in the Midlands is the picturesque Nottingham Road. This tiny town may be small but it is big on charm and well worth at least passing through if you are in the area.
Aside from the famous Nottingham Road Hotel (which is rumoured to be haunted by a restless lady), other town attractions include the Arrow Coffee Roastery and Nottingham Road Brewery. This local brewery is loved for its selection of brewed ales and lagers, as well as some G&Ts.
Tel: +27 (0) 33 266 6308
5. Visit Piggly Wiggly and enjoy a mini-train ride or try your hand at candle dipping
While this may sound quirky and old-fashioned, candle dipping is apparently loads of fun for the whole family to enjoy their hand at… literally! The Midlands are, after all, the perfect place to tap into your inner artist or crafter.
At Piggly Wiggly Coffee Shop, guests can enjoy getting crafty with candle dipping. Candle dipping provides a unique dip-and-paint experience for all ages.
To add to the specialness of this activity, you can even light your beautiful candle afterwards!
Piggly Wiggly also offers an incredible coffee shop, mini golf and the Piggy Zip (run by Karkloof Canopy Tour) over Highgate Wine Estate.
Visit Piggly Wiggly for a fun day in the Midlands with your friends and family!
For candle dipping pricing and other activity pricing, please contact Piggly Wiggly directly.
Kitchen: 08:00 – 15:00 daily. (Coffee, tea and cake are available until 16:00.)
Shops: 09:00 – 17:00 daily.
Piggly Wiggly: +27 (0)33 2342 911
Candle Dipping Piggly Wiggly: (0)82 775 7486
6. Hike through Milestone Forest
One of the most beloved nature walks in the Midlands is the Indigenous Tree Walk. This brisk, yet scenic nature walk takes visitors through the beautiful Milestone Forest. Milestone Forest, in Balgowan, is itself an unmissable local attraction.
Situated on a historic local farm, the forest walk takes you through the incredible indigenous forest.
The walk is steep in places but rewards you with rich natural beauty. It generally takes about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.
Tel: (Marilyn Revesz) +27 (0) 082 427 3365
7. Spend the Day at Midmar Dam
Situated within the Midmar Nature Reserve, near Howick, Midmar Dam is one of the KZN Midlands’ most popular places for families and travellers alike to visit.
Some of the fun attractions and activities you can enjoy here include picnicking, braaing, birding, cycling, swimming, sailing or canoeing, camping, self-catering accommodation, fishing, power boating and even water skiing.
The dam is divided into user groups to improve safety. This provides a great experience for all visiting.
Midmar Dam is the perfect day to enjoy a family outing or city escape. Especially as it is only about an hour and a half or so from Durban.
There is a small entry fee to visit Midmar Dam.
Tel: +27 (0) 33 330 2067/8/9
8. Treat Yourself at Chocolate Heaven, Nottingham Road
If you are looking for chocolate paradise in the Midlands, look no further than Chocolate Heaven. Here, all your sinfully good chocolate dreams can come true!
Producers of pure Belgian chocolate, Chocolate Heaven offers some amazing chocolates to choose from. They have everything from fudge, caramel, shortbread or Turkish Delight to exotics like biltong, curry and even koeksisters!
Better still, you can visit them for some chocolate-making fun! This is thanks to their original chocolate Dippingz Experience. This fun experience is ideal for sweet tooths and chocoholics of all ages.
Note: Chocolate Heaven is available at two locations: Shop 1, The Junction, Nottingham Road and Shop 11, Piggly Wiggly Centre, Lions River.
Please contact Chocolate Heaven for pricing details.
Monday – Saturday: 09:30 – 16:30
Sundays and public holidays: 09:30 – 15:30
The Junction: +27 (0)33 266 6870
Piggly Wiggly: (0)82 340 8999
9. Picnic at Swissland Cheese
Another culinary delight in the Midlands is Swissland Cheese. This unique enterprise is a popular place for families to visit.
This is largely thanks to its delicious, artisanal goats’ cheeses, beautiful function venue and open picnic spaces on the beautiful farm.
While the children run and play, parents can enjoy a good cheese tasting or romantic, hand-selected picnic.
It’s the perfect place to enjoy good fare, family fun and of course, the beauty of the Midlands too!
Please contact Swissland Cheese for pricing.
Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 09:30 – 16:00.
Closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Tel: +27 (0)82 418 3440
10. Pay a Visit to Tweedie Junction
Last but far from least on our list is Tweedie Junction. This fascinating spot is the place to go for all your shops and culinary needs.
This small centre is situated at the start of the Midlands Meander so it’s a natural place to begin your trip from.
Here, you will find a variety of stores and local businesses, selling everything from coffee to candles.
Best of all, the centre is focused around a beautiful courtyard, which provides all the fresh air and beauty you could want while you browse. This makes it a fun outing for the whole family.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 09:00 – 16:00
Sunday: 09:00 – 14:00
Closed on Tuesdays.
Tel: +27 (0)82 457 2583
11. Visit Cathedral Peak Wine Estate
This beautiful wine estate is situated in the majestic Central Drakensberg. Although the estate is relatively young (having only planted its first vineyards in 2007), they have already made a good name for themselves.
The estate, which also doubles as a stunning function and wedding venue, offers visitors a tranquil setting. Here, they can enjoy a lovely wine tasting with friends or family, with views second to none.
Aside from being able to see the Cathedral Peak towers to the west from the cellar, the estate is also edged by two, vast game farms. This means that visitors can take a walk to the vineyards near the river and often spot waterbuck and other small game.
Tastings cost R10 per person, per tasting. Cheese platters are also available for purchase with your wine tasting.
The estate is open for tastings daily, except on Tuesdays, from 09:30 – 16:00.
Please note: Weekend weddings may limit venue availability so check your calendar to see where on-site you can still enjoy a tasting.
The tasting room is closed on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
Tel: +27 (0) 63 075 1123
12. Enjoy a Meal at The Windmills Kitchen
This popular attraction is one of the best places to enjoy a quick pit-stop or delicious meal while travelling through or exploring the KZN Midlands.
The Windmills Kitchen is committed to providing its visitors with a down-to-earth, fun country experience. Their farm kitchen promotes all the best aspects of country living. They also offer 12 unique food stalls, meaning your hunger cravings are sorted!
Guests can tuck into the best healthy, quality foods around. There is everything from bread and pastries to delicious pies (made with grass-fed or hormone-free meats) to handmade burgers and more.
Outside, you can find beautiful gardens, with lovely play facilities for kids. The Windmills Kitchen also boasts some of the cleanest toilet facilities around… Always a bonus on a long road trip!
So if you fancy a bit of a roadside meal or fun outing for all ages, The Windmills Kitchen is perfect for you.
Open daily, from 06:00 – 16:00.
Tel: +27 (0) 33 266 7046
13. Pay a Visit to the Nelson Mandela Capture Site
On 5 August 1962 outside Howick, Nelson Mandela was arrested. The story of his 27-year incarceration and subsequent long walk to freedom are now famous around the world – but perhaps not many people realise that they can visit the actual capture site.
That is why the Nelson Mandela Capture Site both commemorates and teaches the public about this key moment in South African history. Thanks to their on-site visitor centre and world-famous sculpture.
In December 2019, the visitor centre was opened to the public. It features an immersive exhibition, a 360-surround film and a unique display of historical photographs and other artefacts. There is also a replica of the Austin Westminster that Mandela was driving when he was arrested in 1962.
Outside, you can stroll through the carefully landscaped gardens, where the iconic ‘Release’ sculpture is showcased.
If you cannot visit in person, there is also a virtual tour of the visitor centre and sculpture.
Avid MTB enthusiasts can also use the MTB trails to explore the area. Trails are open at all times to users.
The on-site café serves light lunches and coffee for visitors to enjoy.
Ticket prices vary and groups of more than 15 people must book in advance. Payments can be made online using credit cards and Zapper or at the ticket office.
Children (under 12): Free
Young adults (12 – 18 years): R30
Adults (18 – 60 years): R100
Adults/pensioners (60 years and over): R60
Scholars and teachers: R30
Guided tours: R10 per person
Discounts are offered for large groups and there are also ticket prices for school groups and membership cards.
Please contact the Nelson Mandela Capture Site directly for their full rates.
Monday – Sunday, 09:00 – 17:00.
Tel: +27 (0) 72 351 0967
14. Explore Abingdon Wine Estate
Another beautiful Midlands wine estate is Abingdon. Touted by some to be KZN’s premier wine estate, it is an unmissable local attraction.
The estate is proud to be a wine farm that serves great wine and fresh, delicious meals in a lovely, laid-back setting. Lunch at Abingdon – which consists of scrumptious harvest boards and tapa-style dishes – is a popular affair.
Families with slightly older children may be best suited to this estate. Especially as the estate generally prefers children 10 and up. (Although younger children can visit by prior arrangement.)
Join Abingdon for a wine tasting, scenic stroll or relaxed lunch.
The estate is open on Friday, 13:00 – 18:00 and on Saturday, 11:00 – 17:00. They are closed Sunday – Thursday.
Lunches are served on Fridays, from 13:00 – 16:30 and on Saturdays, from 11:30 – 15:00.
Bookings are essential and regretfully, no children under 10 unless by prior arrangement.
Tel: +27 (0)83 463 8503
15. Pay a Visit to Ardmore Ceramics
Ardmore, a popular design and ceramic studio in the KZN Midlands, is another worthy attraction. With a rich, long-standing history of iconic imagery and authentic artworks, Ardmore has cemented a stellar reputation for itself.
Happily, it is also a fascinating place to explore. Young and old can marvel at the beauty and creativity hidden within this veritable Aladdin’s cave.
This incredible ceramic studio is well worth a visit… Browse amazing ceramics, created by locals, in what is a truly special setting on the Ardmore farm, which lies set against the backdrop of the imposing Drakensberg.
Monday – Sunday, 08:00 – 16:30.
Tel: +27 (0) 33 940 0034
16. Dine (or Stay) at Caversham Mill
Caversham Mill is one of the most beautiful accommodation offerings and local attractions in the Midlands Meander.
This wonderful, historical estate offers a restaurant and three Victorian-style cottages, set in a gorgeous country garden on the Lions and Impafana Rivers.
The estate’s restaurant is a well-known, popular landmark. Not only does it provide guests with well-priced comfort food – but you can also enjoy the beauty of the Midlands, while overlooking the Lions River waterfall that tumbles nearby.
Families will surely love the peacefulness of this tranquil, scenic estate and restaurant gem.
Restaurant opening hours:
Monday – Thursday, 09:00 – 16:00
Friday and Saturday, 08:00 – 18:00
Sunday, 09:00 – 16:00
Tel: +27 (0)33 2344524 (Accommodation/restaurant)
17. Head to Checkpoint 103 Activity Hub (Includes Epic Karting)
Checkpoint 103 is one of the most family-friendly, fun attractions in the Midlands. Here, birthday parties, weekend entertainment and good memories reign supreme.
This incredible activity hub offers everything from bubble soccer, epic karting, zorb balling, pedal karts to target shoots, climbing walls, an outdoor kids’ bike track and so much more.
Young and old can enjoy endless hours of fun together at this exciting entertainment centre.
Please contact Checkpoint 103 for pricing and activity age appropriateness.
Thursday – Monday, 09:00 – 17:00. (Epic Karting is open until 18:00.)
They are open every day during school holidays.
Tel: +27 (0)79 320 1770
18. Visit Zulu Lulu Art House
At the inspiring Zulu Lulu Art House, both kids and adults can get in touch with their artsy, creative side – especially as this interesting spot offers ceramic painting and other fun art activities in their dedicated Art Bar.
Aside from the great activities on offer here, guests can also enjoy browsing quality ceramics, glass works, sculptures and iconic Dlamini figurines created by top South African artists, sculptors and ceramic makers.
And if something catches your eye, you can purchase items in-store or online via their website.
Note: Zulu Lulu Art House and Gallery is found at Piggly Wiggly.
Please contact Zulu Lulu for a breakdown of family-friendly activities and their pricing.
Monday – Friday, 09:00 – 15:30.
Saturday – Sunday, 09:00 – 16:00.
Tel: +27 (0)81 270 9074
Have you visited the Midlands? Do you have any recommendations of things to do with kids in the area?
Leave a comment below!
Looking for somewhere to stay?
Read my review of our visit to Pleasant Places Guest House in the Midlands
Visiting the Drakensberg on your trip?
Here are our Top 10 Things to do in the Drakensberg with kids