Sutherland is a town in the Northern Cape province. It lies in the western Roggeveld Mountains in the Karoo. Established in 1858 and named after a prominent Worcester cleric, Reverend Henry Sutherland, the town on the Roggeveld Plateau 1 450m above sea level is known for its brilliant night skies and cold, biting winters, known to be the coldest place in SA. The town attained municipal status in 1884.

The town also has the lowest recorded temperature drops in South Africa, with tourists flocking to Sutherland in order to experience extreme, cold nights under the stars. The town has grocery stores, a commercial bank and an ATM, one petrol station and several guest houses and restaurants.

The ‘sterboom’ (star tree), which blossoms in September is found on farms in the region. Birthplace of Afrikaans author and poet NP Van Wyk Louw, the town is said to produce the finest mutton in the country and is home to the world-renowned South African Astronomical Observatory. The region is also home to the endangered Riverine Rabbit.

Sutherland falls under the Karoo Hoogland Local Municipality which is a Category B municipality situated in the Namakwa District of the Northern Cape Province. It is the second-largest of the six municipalities in the district, making up a quarter of its geographical area. Although the municipality’s towns are separated by more than 100 km’s by road, they share many administrative tasks. Hoogland is an Afrikaans word meaning ‘highland’ and Karoo is a Khoi word meaning ‘hard’ or ‘dry’. The name reflects the area, which has dry, arid and desert-like conditions.

Cities/Towns close to Sutherland are Frasersburg and Williston.

Tourist information Sutherland

Hoogland Tourism, Sutherland tel: (023) 571 1265;

Stargazing in Sutherland, tasting Karoo Lamb chops in the Hantam area and picturesque scenic drives in the Kamiesberg are also popular among our existing tourist market.

South African Astronomical Observatory

Since the early 1970s, the major telescopes of the SAAO have operated on a hilltop 1 800 metresSutherland Observatory above sea level, near the Karoo village of Sutherland, about 370 km inland. The site was chosen for its good weather, semi-desert setting, absence of light and other pollution.

Please note that booking is essential! Unscheduled tours cannot be accommodated and we would not want you to travel all the way to the middle of nowhere, just to be let down.

Booking details

Tour guides will meet you at the Visitor Centre at your scheduled time. If you arrive early please wait at the Visitor Centre for your guide. This is a secure site and all other buildings are off limits to the public.

Book online:

Please contact SAAO, Sutherland during office hours from Monday to Friday, between 8:00 and 13:00 and 14:00 and 16:00.

Telephone: (023) 571-2436


A visit to Sutherland is something everyone should undertake at least once.

Fraserburg is situated 105 km north-east of Sutherland.

Return to Northern Cape Towns/Cities or visit the Northern Cape Tourism Page

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 2,836
Young (0-14) 28,2%
Working Age (15-64) 57,6%
Elderly (65+) 14,2%
Dependency ratio 73,7
Sex ratio 87,4
Population density 79 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 17,5%
Higher education aged 20+ 8,2%
Matric aged 20+ 15,1%
Number of households 718
Average household size 3,4
Female headed households 45,3%
Formal dwellings 94,4%
Housing owned/paying off 52,1%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 19,4%
Weekly refuse removal 98,1%
Piped water inside dwelling 43,2%
Electricity for lighting 95,4%