Takes its name from the bay at the mouth of the Mhlathuze River, which was named after Sir Frederick Richard’s, Commodore of the Cape Station of the Royal naval force, assisting the land forces against the Zulu in 1879. The Zulu name is Cwebeni, ‘at the lagoon’
This fast developing town is located at the mouth and lagoon of the Mhlatuze River. The lagoon has been developed into a deep-water harbour that can receive some of the largest ships afloat. Wharves and terminals have been equipped to load ships with bulk coal and various metal ores for export. Massive tankers discharge oil into a pipeline that carries it to the refineries in Gauteng.
It was only during the late 1970’s that Richard’s Bay became a significant industrial port as result of the congestion of Durban harbour. Its value as a deep-water harbour was further enhanced by its ability to accommodate large bulk carriers and mammoth tankers that are beyond the capacity of the Durban harbour. An aluminium smelter and a fertiliser plant have been erected at the harbour and large deposits of titanium are being mined from the sand close to the bay.
The Richard’s Bay Game Sanctuary was created during 1935 to protect the wildlife in an around the lagoon and in 1943 the Richard’s Bay Park was established on 400 hectares of the shores to conserve the plant life.
Huberta, the wandering hippo, began her adventures from the Mhlatuze lagoon in 1928. For the next three years Huberta ambled for 1600 km through the coast of Natal until 1931. Three hunters, ignorant of the fact that she was royal game, shot her in the Keiskamma River and her body today occupies a place of pride in the Amatola (Kaffrarian) Museum at King William’s Town.
During 1891 John Dunn shot the largest recorded South African (Nile) crocodile in the lagoon. It was 6,5m long.