Noetsie, near Knysna, has an unforgettable charming beach that is surrounded by five castles. The first thing that strikes a visitor is the beautiful, magnificently built castles, which are in fact private homes.
The earliest maps call the area Noetziekamma, a Khoi-san word for 'dark water' possibly referring to the tannins leaching into the river from indigenous forested banks.
Noetzie beach and lagoon has been an annual holiday site for the locals ever since one can remember. There was a rough old track down which the ox wagons would creak to the beach. The oxen would be let loose and would graze the dune vegetation while people caught fish abundantly, swam in the clean dark waters of the Noetzie lagoon and enjoyed the wilderness experience.
Difficult steep access and the south facing aspect of Noetzie meant that Noetzie was left alone during the colder months. This is still true today, but may change in the near future.
The first ex Millwood Cottages were brought down by ox wagon in the early 1900s. The names of some of the holiday cottages were 'Yellow Cottage', 'Helenside' and 'Lagoona'. A few of them were owned by Oudtshoorn families like the Norths, owners of the Imperial Hotel in Oudtshoorn and a Mr Strydom. Other families at Noetzie were the Metelerkamps and the Stroebel family. Fifth and seventh generations of the same Knysna and Oudshoorn families still holiday at Noetzie today.
In the early thirties the first castles were built. The oldest castle, at the western end of the main beach, was built as a holiday house by Herbert Stephen Henderson, who lived in what was then Southern Rhodesia. He built it in 1932 out of the natural stone found at Noetzie. The story goes that he had no intention of building a 'castle', but had simply used the local stone for practical reasons, when Rex Metelerkamp who was watching the building process, jokingly said to him: 'All you need to do is to add a few turrets and you'll have a castle'. So he did. That set the trend and he built 'Pezula' on the hill in the late 1930s which was used in the 40’s as a convalescent home for the RAF and was later sold to Garfield Todd, Prime Minister of Rhodesia and later bought back after his banishment from SA in the 60's. In 1942 he built what has become known simply as 'The Castle'. His son built 'Montrose' in the 1970s and the Lindsays built 'Perekuil' in the 1960s. During the apartheid era Noetzie, unlike other public places, remained non racial and was enjoyed by all.
Aware of Noetzie's natural riches, residents applied to the authorities to have it declared a conservancy in order to protect and preserve it's natural bounty. In 1999, symbolically celebrated as the last year of the millennium, Noetzie officially became a conservancy.
In 2000 Keith Stewart's 'Fastpulse 72' bought 640 ha in and around Noetzie and began the process towards the establishment of the development of the remainder of Noetzie farm, now known as the Pezula Private Estate.