In 1887 when the British government annexed Zululand they established several magisterial districts. One district was Mthonjaneni, and the centre of the district was what today is known as Melmoth, named after Sir Melmoth Osborn, the first British Chief Native Commissioner for Zululand. Melmoth was essentially a `gold rush town`. At the turn of the century gold was mined at the Melmoth Gold Fields, five kilometres out of town, but this was a short term venture. Deserted diggings can still be found in some areas.
Melmoth, known as the gateway to the Zulu Kingdom, is a picturesque, little town just 200 km north east of Durban,73Km from Empangeni, 52Km from Eshowe, and 53Km from Ulundi in the interior of northern Kwazulu-Natal. It lies at an elevation of 800m. Melmoth is a trading and agricultural centre, mainly timber and sugarcane. It has been referred to, in the SA edition of Trivial Pursuit, as having the cleanest air in the country. The sweep of large sugarcane and timber plantations make way for rolling hills and green fields of grassland that is so typical of the Zululand landscape. Commercial agriculture and the timeless tableau of farmsteads and traditional thatched homesteads with small patches of crops and grazing cattle converge to create a place of unspoilt beauty with a rich natural and social diversity where new lifestyles thrive next to a culture steeped in tradition. Melmoth is essentially regarded as a good base for travellers wanting to visit place of interest close to the town, all within an hour’s drive.