Skate Spot Check: Pietermaritzburg – DIY or Die

May 9, 2022 | Archive, Bowl Skating, Community, Creativity, Culture, Skateboarding, Skateparks, Social Activism, Spots, Street Skateboarding

Sheldon Els, blunt slide, Red Banks, Pietermaritzburg. Photo by Andre Swart.

In a round up of Pietermaritzburg’s best street skate and park spots, blunt takes a deep dive into its DIY scene and concrete waves. So the next time you’re in town, you know exactly what to expect.

Words by Chantal Graaff. Main photos by Andre Swart.

Pietermaritzburg is the capital and second-largest city in KwaZulu Natal. Steeped in history and iconic Victorian-era architecture, it’s also a decent spot for a skate mission. PMB, aka the 033, offers you a lot of terrain in a short space of time.

Alexandra Skate Park

Pietermaritzburg’s home park is centrally located and primarily a DIY initiative. For years the PMB skatepark featured only a halfpipe and spine with a set of china bowls surrounded by grass and potential. The local skaters would skate a tennis court nearby as a flat ground alternative. 

Eventually, the municipality allocated a budget and extended the parameters of the park with concrete. 

Although the locals are thankful, it’s another classic case of questionably allocated government funding; it’s pretty clear that no skaters were involved in the decision making-design or layout – you can only skate flat ground for so long. But the park was a large slab of concrete which provided the perfect opportunity for some good old skate DIY.

The PMB locals often run cleaning initiatives, clearing grass and litter and draining the bowls. And as often as possible they take to constructing and installing new obstacles from scratch.

Over the years, the local skaters took it into their own hands to build, clean and maintain the park. With a small group of locals at a time, pooling funds together and dedicating weekends to hauling generators and power tools along to the park to install pre-made boxes, rails, pole jams, kickers and drain covers for the china bowls. 

In their most ambitious project drive in recent years, the skaters pushed for awareness of the state of their local park and the potential for skateboarding as a positive community influence.

Sheldon Els and Robert Monstrum, Alexandra skate park DIY, circa 2018. Photo Skatify SA.

With a combined effort, they were granted an allocated budget from AfricaBurn’s Spark grant, community outreach initiative. The skaters used the budget on building materials, and tireless weekends mixing, pouring and floating cement to construct a brand new A-Frame, and do a few repairs on the half pipes and bowls. 

The project saw an amazing collaboration between parents, groms, skaters and the homeless folks inhabiting the park. 

DIY. Skate. Braai. It left a memorable legacy in the hearts of all involved and, finally, a well deserved level-up obstacle for local skaters forever.

The PMB locals often run cleaning initiatives, clearing grass and litter and draining the bowls. And as often as possible they take to constructing and installing new obstacles from scratch.

So if you’re only in town occasionally, it’s pretty likely that you’ll see a new obstacle every time you visit.

The latest obstacles include:

  • A gnarly ramp to rail, where the only choices are land or get sacked. 
  • And a very beginner-friendly low gold bar. 

Find it on Google Maps

Harry Gwala Stadium

Known by locals as the ‘Red Banks’ at Harry Gwala stadium, this spot is a smooth, concrete outdoor plaza located just down the road from Alexandra Park. 

It features long sets of gradual banks and boxes for skaters at various levels.  

The spot has already made its mark, making its way into the limelight on Instagram and YouTube. 

Now it is frequented by some of South Africa’s heaviest hitters any time they are in the 033.

‘Sparrow’ backside ollie ‘Red Banks’, Harry Gwala Stadium. Photo by Andre Swart.


Linpark High School Halfpipe

By all accounts, it seems as if this extraordinarily steep halfpipe was built in 1996. After years of enduring KZNs fluctuating climate conditions, The surface of the halfpipe is now nothing, but pure GNAR and local skaters would do well to put it to more use.

NB: Anyone coming through to check the Linpack halfpipe out should be advised to bring a broom and possibly at times even a spade. 

Find it on Google Maps

Ashburton Concrete Surfing Skate Park

This incredible backyard park, situated on a smallholding in Ashburton just outside PMB, is a firm favourite with local skaters and is open to all. 

The concrete surf park was built for property owner Gonnie Bromhead’s 40th birthday and has a distinct surfer style. 

Ashburton Concrete Surfing Skate Park, situated on a smallholding in Ashburton just outside PMB, is a firm favourite with local skaters and is open to all. 

Home to a couple of raucous skate camps, local skate comps, Girls Skate beginner workshops and a few epic birthday weekend braais – this awesome park is perfect for skaters of all levels and is open to whoever knows where to find it. 

Just pull up to the gate, dial the intercom or hoot, and hold up your board; one of the tenants will let you in.

Kevin Louw, boneless, Concrete Surfing skate park, Ashburton. Photo by Paul Oxborough.


Street Spot –  Standard Bank 8 Stair / Rail

This steezy 8-Stair Rail, located at the Standard Bank within the Midlands Service Centre (old show grounds) has been attempted only by a few locals. There are varying degrees of luck with security with better chances and leniency on weekdays rather than weekends. 

This is an official challenge from the 033 skate crew to South Africa’s big dawgs.

Come skate this NBD rail. The photo opportunity is phenomenal, and the bragging rights are huge.

Find it on Google Maps

Sheldon Els, ollie melon grab, 8 stair, Standard Bank, Midlands Service Centre, not too long ago. Photo by Chantal Graaff.

Pietermaritzburg has a long rich skateboarding history, dating back to the ‘Cool Pool’ classic and beyond back in the day, a history that continues with the DIY spirit of today’s generation of skaters. 

So next time you are on a road trip, put the 033 on your list of destinations to skate, the locals will be stoked to welcome you.

Interesting Links

News 24 article on Concrete Surfing Ashburton

Video of skating at Concrete Surfing Ashburton

Session Mag video – Introducing Yann Horowitz (Harry Gwala Stadium @ 2m52, followed by Alex Park)

Check out our gallery of PMB skate photos taken over the years:

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