What makes Noetzie so special is not just the castles, but its very special natural beauty, much of which is still pristine – an increasing rarity in the brash hotel-and-hamburger-stand culture that has ruined so much of South Africa’s once splendid coastline. The golden beach surrounded by forested hills, the dark waters of the lagoon, the rugged ochre rocks and the thundering breakers that roll in row after row from the far southern oceans.
The bay has even been the site of a shipwreck, the 3 masted French schooner the “Phoenix”, in 1881, that appeared to have been abandoned, for no known reason, far out to sea before finding itself laid up on Noetzie beach. Something that caused great local excitement, and much mystification, at the time!
The Sinclair Reserve, on the other side of Noetzie beach is an extensive indigenous forest, with all the unique coastal trees such as Yellowwood, Stinkwood, Cape Beech and Ironwood to name but a few. There are trails in the forest for the intrepid hiker, which do require a permit.
Being a reserve, not only is it and it’s coastline beautiful to view, but it “frames” Noetzie on its eastern side and has to date protected that part of the coast and it’s hinterland from thoughtless development.
Noetzie and its surroundings is home to many creatures that once inhabited much of our shoreline, but which have disappeared in many places as human pressure on the coast increases. Fish eagles and ospreys, can be seen from time to time flying up and over the winding river, otters which scamper across the beach after sunset, or who can be seen searching for crabs in the lagoon (always a sign of a clean environment).
Even secretive Cape Leopards – a smaller race from those found in the bushveld further north – have made their appearance on camera traps placed by Noetzie residents, and sometimes their distinctive tracks can be seen on the beach. The forest and fynbos provide shelter to bushbuck, Cape Grysbok, bushpigs, honey badgers, baboons, and vervet monkeys to only mention a few.
In the early 20th century, elephants were sometimes seen near Noetzie, but this unique Knysna population has now shrunk to a few rarely seen individuals that survive in the forest some distance inland.
On the beach Black oystercatchers – South Africa’s rarest coastal bird – can be found with their red beaks and haunting cry. In the forest, if you are lucky you can see Knysna Loeries with their distinctive flash of crimson on their wings as they glide from branch to branch in the deep forest. The shy and rarely seen Trogon, another bird of the deep forest, Paradise Flycatchers, the jewel-like Sunbirds of the fynbos and many others offer a special experience to the bird enthusiast.
In winter, the waters around Noetzie are regularly visited by the magnificent Southern Right Whale, as well as, but less frequently, the Humpback, and Brydes Whale.
There are very regular visits by pods of dolphin passing by or surfing and general disporting themselves in the Noetzie waves
For those in interested in palaeoanthropology, Noetzie was also home to people who have long since disappeared, the small bands of Khoisan hunter gatherers that wandered along the coast for many thousands of years.
Their middens, – layers of discarded shells and bone from many meals over the millennia,- are scattered along the coastal paths and are buried under some of the houses.