A town of humble beginnings, Kokstad was established by outcasts from the town of Philippolis on the banks of the Orange River. Adam Kok led his Griqua people comprising approximately 2000 men, women and children and 20 000 head of cattle to this “promised land”. This epic journey took over two years to complete through the rough terrain of the Lesotho mountain ranges and pays tribute to the courage and tenacity of these hardy people.
The town sits on the boundary between KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape and is nestled in the heart of Griqualand. Surrounded by mountains and unsurpassed natural scenery, Kokstad is predominantly a stock farming area. Other economic growth pillars in the region are tourism and industrial manufacturing.
The fact that Kokstad is situated close to the Eastern Cape has boosted local business wealth as the town experiences large volumes of foot traffic from the former Transkei. A commercial focal point, the town has grown exponentially in recent years. Kokstad is crossed by a number of important transportation routes, such as the N2 that links the area to surrounding economic hubs like Durban and Port Shepstone.
The area is popular for its many rivers and dams and as such is a trout fisherman’s paradise. The Mount Currie Nature Reserve which stands on a historical laager site is also a well-visited attraction. Visitors from neighbouring regions such as the lower South Coast often descend on the area in the winter months when the first signs of snow appear, taking in the magnificent snow-capped mountain scenery, sipping red wine in front of roaring log fires and enjoying the hospitality of the friendly locals.
Kokstad is currently the fastest growing town in KwaZulu-Natal and recent residential property statistics released by Lightstone reveal that there have been a total of 85 residential properties sold in the area in the last 12 months.
The statistics indicate that the average price paid for a freehold property in Kokstad in 2011 was R833 000 and price averages have virtually doubled since 2009, when the average price paid for a property in the freehold sector of the market was R439 000. Sectional title sales performed significantly weaker than the freehold sector of the market and made up 2.77% of property sold in the annual period, at an average price of R473 000. A total of 60% of the population in the town have resided in the area for eight to ten years and longer, with 46% of recent buyers falling in the age category of 36 to 49 years.
The rate at which the area has grown has posed certain problems for the local municipality in terms of providing sufficient healthcare infrastructure and education facilities. That said, there are a number of excellent private and government schools such as the Kokstad Junior School which proudly celebrated it centenary birthday in 1993. With an approximate population of 45 000 residents, governmental departments continue to upgrade existing infrastructure and build new facilities.
Talk show host and philanthropist, Oprah Winfrey, placed the town on the map when she first visited the Seven Fountains Primary school in 2002. In 2004, Winfrey’s Angel Network committed to building a new school for the 1000 pupils and teachers, after they were forced to move from the original farm and relocate to a building with no windows, limited access to electricity and running water and basic infrastructure. The new school which cost almost R12m to build, now features running water, solar power, 25 classrooms, a media centre and computer rooms.