Roughly the size of Portugal, Kwa-Zulu Natal (KZN) is made up of 3 geographic areas:
- Lowlands along the Indian Ocean, the coastal areas with subtropical thickets, deeper ravines and steep slopes hosting some Afromontane Forest.
- The Natal Midlands, a hill-rich plateau rising to the west, with moist grasslands and isolated pockets of Afromontane Forest.
- The Drakensberg (West) Mountains hosting mostly alpine grassland and the Lebombo (North) Mountains with with a primarily moist savanna habitat.
KZN is home to 2 UNESCO World Heritage (iSimangaliso Wetland Park and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park) and 3 RAMSAR (iSimangaliso Wetland Park, along with uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park and Ndumo) sites.
The climate of the coastal areas is humid and subtropical, comparable to southern Florida in the United States, but not quite as hot and rainy in the summer. Further north up the coast towards the border of Mozambique, the climate becomes almost purely tropical.
The North Coast, which includes Ballito, Umhlanga and Salt Rock, is located north of Durban and to its south The South Coast, which includes Margate, Port Shepstone, Scottburgh and Port Edward.
In 2002 Marina Beach and the San Lameer Resort was recognised as a Blue Flag beach.
Apart from being a popular tourist attraction for Summer holidays, the KZN coast also features another tourist attraction: the annual late autumn or early winter phenomenon of the "sardine run". Referred to as "the greatest shoal on earth", the sardine run occurs when millions of sardines migrate from their spawning grounds south of the southern tip of Africa northward along the Eastern Cape coastline toward KwaZulu-Natal. They follow a route close inshore, often resulting in many fish washing up on beaches. The huge shoal of tiny fish can stretch for many kilometres; it is preyed upon by thousands of predators, including game fish, sharks, dolphins and seabirds. Usually the shoals break up and the fish disappear into deeper water around Durban. Scientists have been unable to answer many questions surrounding this exceptional seasonal event. (Source: Wikipedia)