N2 (South Africa)
The N2 is a national route in South Africa that runs from Cape Town through Gqeberha, East London and Durban to Ermelo. It is the main highway along the Indian Ocean coast of the country. Its total distance of 2,255 kilometres (1,401 mi) makes it the longest numbered route in South Africa.
Major towns and cities along the route of the N2 include Cape Town, Somerset West, Caledon, Swellendam, Mossel Bay, George, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Humansdorp, Port Elizabeth, Makhanda, King William's Town, Bhisho, East London, Mthatha, Kokstad, Port Shepstone, Durban, KwaDukuza, Empangeni, Piet Retief and Ermelo.
The N2 begins in central Cape Town at the northern end of Buitengracht Street outside the entrance to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The first section of the N2 is shared with the beginning of the N1; it is a four-lane elevated freeway that runs along a strip of land between the city centre and the Port of Cape Town. On the eastern edge of the city centre the two roads split, and the N2 turns south as Nelson Mandela Boulevard, crossing above the yards and approach tracks of Cape Town railway station.
The N2 descends to ground level in Woodstock before approaching the major interchange known as "Hospital Bend" because of its proximity to Groote Schuur Hospital. In this interchange, the N2 and the M3 merge to form a massive 10-lane freeway before diverging again. Because Hospital Bend is built on a steeply sloping curve, and lane-changing is often necessary to travel through the intersection, it was notorious for congestion and accidents, until it was upgraded between 2008 and 2010. 
After Hospital Bend the N2 turns east to travel across the Cape Flats as a 6-lane freeway to Somerset West; this section is known as Settler's Way. Along this route it crosses the M5, M7 and R300 freeways; it also travels just past the end of the main runway at Cape Town International Airport. It enters the Helderberg region where it passes through Somerset West and is reduced to an undivided highway, passing through several intersections with traffic lights, which cause frequent congestion. After Somerset West it bypasses Strand, Gordon's Bay and Sir Lowry's Pass Village. After Sir Lowry's Pass Village, the N2 climbs Sir Lowry's Pass to enter the Overberg region. It passes near the town of Grabouw on the Hottentots-Holland plateau before descending the Houwhoek Pass to Botrivier. After Botrivier it passes across the agricultural plains through the towns of Caledon, Riviersonderend, Swellendam and Riversdale to re-approach the coast at Mossel Bay, which marks the beginning of the Garden Route.
Just west of Mossel Bay the N2 again becomes a divided freeway, and remains one as far as the intersection with the N9/N12 just outside George. From there it travels across Kaaiman's Pass (see below) to Wilderness and on to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. After Plettenberg Bay a section of the road is tolled as the Tsitsikamma Toll Route, primarily because of the Bloukrans Bridge; an alternative route used to run through Nature's Valley but this is no longer available due to flood damage. The Bloukrans Bridge marks the border with the Eastern Cape and is the site of the world's highest bridge bungy, Bloukrans Bridge Bungy.
In the Eastern Cape the N2 passes as the Sunshine Coast Road near Humansdorp and Jeffrey's Bay before becoming a 4-lane divided freeway through the city of Gqeberha, ending at Colchester. The N2 continues in a north-easterly direction from Port Elizabeth, moving away from the coast towards Makhanda; en route the N10 splits from the N2, going northwards towards Middelburg and eventually Namibia. Those driving from Gauteng can join the N9 at Colesberg, and then the N10 at Middelburg.
After passing around Makhanda on a bypass, the N2 passes through the former Ciskei, passing through Peddie. At Qonce it turns back towards the coast, meeting it at East London. The N2 passes around East London on a 4 lane dual carriageway bypass; it meets the N6 which runs northwards from East London towards Komani and Bloemfontein.
After East London, the N2 turns again towards the interior in a northeasterly direction to avoid the difficult terrain of the Wild Coast. It passes through the former Transkei and its former capital Mthatha. There are plans for the N2 to run as a 4 lane dual carriageway highway from Viedgesville to the Ngqeleni Village turn off, bypassing Mthatha to the south, as part of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road. After passing Mthatha, the N2 passes through the towns of Qumbu, Mount Frere (KwaBhaca) and Mount Ayliff. Near Kokstad, KwaZulu-Natal the N2 climbs Brook's Nek to enter the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
At Kokstad the N2 meets the R56 from Matatiele and makes a hard right towards the coast. The R56 separates from the N2 at Stafford's Post, running in a northeasterly direction past Umzimkhulu, Ixopo and Richmond towards Pietermaritzburg. The R56 can be used as an alternative to avoid the toll plaza at Port Shepstone, and one can follow the R56 to Pietermaritzburg, and then using the N3 from Pietermaritzburg to Hillcrest, where one can use the M13 as an alternative to Durban. The N2 eventually meets the coast at Port Shepstone, and is tolled once again. This is also the point where the R61 ends, providing an alternative route to Mthatha through the Wild Coast and eventually Cape Town via Beaufort West and the N1. From Port Shepstone it runs as a freeway past the resort towns of the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, including Hibberdene, Ifafa Beach, Pennington, Park Rynie, Scottburgh, Umkomaas and Amanzimtoti, before passing on a 6-lane bypass around the city of Durban. At the Westville EB Cloete Interchange, the N2 meets the N3 which heads northwest toward Johannesburg. Major upgrades have been made to existing interchanges with the M19 Umgeni Road Interchange, the bridge over the Umgeni River and the M41 Mount Edgecombe Interchange. Plans are also in place to upgrade the N2 between the Lovu River and Umdloti to a 6-lane highway between the Lovu River and Amanzimtoti, and an 8 to 10-lane highway between Amanzimtoti and Umdloti, with upgrades to the interchanges at Adams Road, Moss Kolnick Road, Prospection Road (R102), Higginson Highway (M1), Solomon Mahlangu Drive (M7), the N3 (EB Cloete) and Queen Nandi Drive (M43).
After Durban, the N2 runs as the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast Toll Road from King Shaka International Airport to Mtunzini, passing through Umhlanga, Ballito and Tongaat. The N2 runs close to King Shaka International Airport and a tolled off-ramp provides access to the airport. It is tolled twice before the freeway section ends at KwaDukuza (formerly Stanger), once at Tongaat and again before KwaDukuza. It then continues as a 4-lane single carriageway highway and passes through sugar cane plantations on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast. It is tolled once again, and for the final time at Mtunzini and meets the R34 which provides access to Richards Bay to the east and Empangeni and Ulundi to the west. The 34 km stretch of the N2 between Mtunzini and Empangeni has been upgraded to a 4-lane dual carriageway. After Richards Bay, the N2 turns north, moving away from the coast into the heart of Zululand, where it bypasses Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park to the west and runs past the town of Mkuze before running close to the border of Eswatini, passing the town of Pongola.
After leaving Pongola, the N2 makes a direct line for Piet Retief and meets the R33 that links Piet Retief and Pietermaritzburg via Vryheid which is 370 kilometres away. It then heads for Ermelo where it eventually terminates where it meets the N11 at the corner of Voortrekkerlaan and De Emigratie Street in the town centre, just south of the N11's intersection with the N17.
The total length of the road is 2255 kilometres.
Tsitsikamma Toll Route
- Tsitsikamma Toll Plaza, near Nature's Valley (includes ramp toll plazas)
South Coast Toll Route
- Oribi Toll Plaza, Port Shepstone (includes ramp toll plazas)
- Umtentweni Ramp Toll Plaza, Port Shepstone
North Coast Toll Route
- King Shaka Ramp Toll Plaza, near King Shaka International Airport
- oThongathi Toll Plaza, near oThongathi (includes ramp toll plazas)
- Mvoti Toll Plaza, near KwaDukuza
- Mandini Ramp Toll Plaza, near Mandini
- Dokodweni Ramp Toll Plaza, Dokodweni (near Gingindlovu)
- Mtunzini Toll Plaza, Mtunzini (includes ramp toll plazas)
Disruption to route
Heavy rains triggered a mud-slide on the Kaaiman's pass section of the N2 between George and Wilderness. This caused the road to be temporarily closed from 26 August 2006. As a result of the slide a section of roadway sagged and large cracks appeared on the road surface. After an inspection by a team of engineers a single lane was reopened on 29 August for vehicles with a gross mass of under 5000 kg.
An alternative route following the Saasveld road was put into use, but this road only allows for a single lane of traffic and light vehicles. Heavy vehicles have to take an alternative route via the R62 and Langkloof pass effectively lengthening the distance from George to Wilderness from 11 km to over 600 km (news24.com story). The road has since reopened but major repairs are being done.
Traffic on the N2 has also been disrupted on numerous occasions because of protests. On 10 September 2007, residents of Joe Slovo Informal Settlement blockaded the N2 Freeway in Cape Town near Langa. Police responded with rubber bullets injuring over 30 residents. On 4 December 2008, a few thousand residents of eMachambini, between KwaDukuza and Richards Bay in KZN, blockaded the N2 Freeway in protest against the proposed AmaZulu World Themepark. Police opened fire and injured about 23 residents and arrested about 10.
On 20 October 2012, a section of the N2 was closed after heavy rainfall caused a collapse about 20 km outside Makhanda.
N2 Wild Coast Toll Route (N2WCTR)
As of 2018, there are plans to realign the N2 National Route from Port Shepstone to Mthatha, on a shorter stretch of road, and designate the entire stretch between Port Edward and East London as a toll road. It is scheduled for completion in 2024 and this new N2 route will take over some sections of the current R61 Route from Mthatha to Port Shepstone.
This new route, known as the Wild Coast Toll Route, will extend from East London (Gonubie Interchange) to Port Edward (Mthamvuna Interchange). There will be two new "greenfields" sections, one between Port St. John's and Lusikisiki, and the other between Lusikisiki and Port Edward. The latter greenfields section will provide a shorter and more direct route between Port Edward and Lusikisiki while the current R61 passes through Flagstaff and Bizana on route between the two towns. The greenfields sections will include two new toll plazas, namely the Mthentu Toll Plaza between Lusikisiki and Port Edward, and the Ndwalane Toll Plaza just outside of Port St. Johns.
In this project, there are also plans to widen the N2 from Port St. Johns to East London to a 4-lane undivided highway. The new greenfields section between Lusikisiki and Port Edward will also include a 4-lane undivided highway, with a 4-lane dual carriageway through Lusikisiki. Bypasses around the towns of Butterworth (Gcuwa), Idutywa and Mthatha are to be constructed after the completion of the new toll road. According to Traveller24, this new route will be around 85 kilometres shorter and will be a faster route by about 3 hours, especially for heavy vehicles. Once this new Wild Coast Highway is complete, the distance between Durban and East London will be reduced to 573 kms and the overall route between Durban and Cape Town will be reduced to 1 621 kms, making the N2 the shorter route between Durban and Cape Town. The old N2 route passing through Harding, Kokstad and KwaBhaca will be designated as the R102.
So far, some road signs on the Port Shepstone to Port Edward section of the R61 have already been changed to signs indicating the N2.
- Media related to N2 road (South Africa) at Wikimedia Commons