Noordhoek name mystery

The SS Kakapo shortly after it wrecked itself on Noordhoek’s Long Beach in August 1899. Picture: Cape of Diab

While Noordhoek is best known for its shoreline along a wide sandy beach, it is also home to the SS Kakapo shipwreck which has become a well-known tourist attraction.

According to South African History Online (SAHO) the 665-ton schooner-rigged steamship wrecked itself on Noordhoek’s Long Beach in August 1899.

It was on its way to Sydney from the United Kingdom with a cargo of coal when it mistook Chapman’s Peak for Cape Point and ended up on the beach.

No lives were lost and legend has it that the captain of the ship was so mortified that he refused to leave the ship and lived on the wreck for three years.

The remains of this historical ship can be seen near the Kommetjie side of Long Beach and many hikers walk the length of the beach to pass its remains.

SAHO stated that there is some mystery about how Noordhoek got its name and it is suspected that the name goes as far back as the arrival of Jan van Riebeeck in the Cape in 1652.

It it is not certain whether the name refers to the northern corner of the Fish Hoek/Kommetjie valley, or as some would have it, is a reference to the powerful northern winds often experienced on the coastline or if its a corruption of “Norwegian Corner”, but the most likely explanation is that the name refers to its geographical position.