Port Shepstone was founded in 1867 when marble was discovered nearby and is named after Sir Theophilus Shepstone of the Natal government of the 1880s. William Bazley built a harbour and the first coaster entered the harbour on the May 8, 1880. In 1882 a party of 246 Norwegian immigrants settled here and played a large part in the development of the area. After the opening of the railway to Durban in 1901 the harbour fell in disuse and eventually the river silted up again making it impossible to use. The 27,000 candela lighthouse still stands at the mouth of the Mzimkulu River.

Its industries include a sugar mill, a lime works and a marble quarry. Timber, wattle bark and sub-tropical fruit are produced in the district.

The town features as a boundary between areas in the SABC weather forecast, where it appears in the phrase "from Port Shepstone to the Tugela mouth...".

There is a vibrant Abahlali baseMjondolo branch in the Gamalakhe township. It was founded by Lungisani Jama.


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