N1 (South Africa)

The N1 is a national route in South Africa that runs from Cape Town through Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Pretoria and Polokwane to Beit Bridge on the border with Zimbabwe.[1] It forms the first section of the famed Cape to Cairo Road.

National route N1
The N1 is indicated in red.
Route information
Maintained by SANRAL, Bakwena, City of Cape Town Metropolitan Municipality, Western Cape Provincial Government
Length1,936 km (1,203 mi)
Major junctions
South end M62 in Cape Town
Major intersections N2 in Cape Town
N7 in Cape Town
N12 near Beaufort West
N12 at Three Sisters
N10 at Hanover
N9 at Colesberg
N6 near Bloemfontein
N8 near Bloemfontein
N5 at Winburg
N12 near Soweto
N3 near Sandton
N14 in Centurion
N4 near Pretoria
N11 near Mokopane
North endA4 A4 at the Zimbabwean border at Beit Bridge
CountrySouth Africa
Major cities
Highway system
R730 N2

Prior to 1970, the N1 designation was applied to the route from Beit Bridge to Colesberg and then along the current N9 to George. The section from Cape Town to Colesberg was designated the N9.[2]


Western Cape

N1 freeway as it enters Cape Town
N1 near De Doorns atop Hex River Pass

The N1 begins in central Cape Town at the northern end of Buitengracht Street (M62), outside the entrance to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The first section of the N1 is shared with the beginning of the N2;[1] 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 N1 turns east as Table Bay Boulevard, passing the Ysterplaat Air Force Base and Century City before the N7 intersects it on its own way out of the city towards Namibia.[1] Major improvements have been made to the Koeberg Interchange, where the N1 meets the M5, one of the main arterial routes linking Milnerton with the Southern Suburbs.

The N1 then heads through the suburbs of Goodwood and Bellville, where the R300 terminates at it, before heading towards Paarl. At Paarl, the freeway ends, and the N1 is tolled as it passes through the Huguenot Tunnel running underneath the Du Toitskloof Mountains; the tunnel was opened in the late 1980s to replace the old Du Toitskloof Pass running over the mountain, with the old route over the pass designated as the R101. After emerging from the tunnel, the N1 winds through the Molenaar River Valley (which is a short dual carriageway section) before emerging from the valley and heading towards Worcester, bypassing Rawsonville. From Worcester, the route heads through the Hex River Valley, passing De Doorns and then enters the Karoo by ascending the Hex River Pass en route to Touws River.[1]

Currently only the section of the N1 passing through the Huguenot Tunnel is tolled, although there were formerly plans to toll the N1 from the junction with the R300, roughly to De Doorns.[3] This would have allowed for upgrading of the N1, most especially the opening and construction of the Northern Bore of the Huguenot Tunnel so that two lanes of traffic could pass in each direction through the tunnel, and the building of grade separated junctions along the N1 through Worcester. Although the town centre is bypassed, there are a number of traffic lights on the N1 through Worcester.

From the top of the pass, the N1 passes Touws River and Matjiesfontein before passing through Laingsburg, then heads towards Beaufort West, passing the ghost towns of Prince Albert Road and Leeu-Gamka.[1] The 200 km section between Laingsburg and Beaufort West is notorious for claiming many lives in fatigue-related accidents; also, the N1 begins to turn towards the north-east along this stretch of road. Just before Beaufort West, the N12 from George meets the N1; the N12 and the N1 routes are co-signed through Beaufort West and for the next 75 km north-east before splitting at Three Sisters.[1] The N12 later meets the N1 again in Johannesburg, making the N12 an alternative route to the N1, passing through Kimberley as opposed to Bloemfontein. The N1 from Bloemfontein northwards is tolled while the N12 is toll-free. Whereas the N12 also passes through most of the towns en route to Johannesburg, the N1 bypasses every town between Beaufort West and Johannesburg (avoiding town centres).

The N1 briefly crosses into the Northern Cape at Three Sisters for a few kilometres before crossing back into the Western Cape, and remains in the Western Cape until just after its intersection with the R63, where it re-enters the Northern Cape.

Northern Cape

The N1 has a short section in the Northern Cape. After re-entering the Northern Cape, it passes north-east past the town of Richmond before intersecting with the N10 at Hanover, which is the halfway point between Johannesburg and Cape Town. The N1 then continues towards Colesberg, where it meets the northern terminus of the N9 just south of the town. Approximately 35km after Colesberg, the N1 crosses the Orange River and enters the Free State.[1]

Free State

After the Orange River crossing, the N1 makes a direct line for Bloemfontein, passing the towns of Springfontein, Trompsburg and Edenburg, heading in a more northerly direction. The N1 from Colesberg to Bloemfontein is highly significant because it was the first single-carriageway freeway built in South Africa. The bridges with the interchanges at Edenburg and Trompsburg show the ambitious plans for this road as a dual-carriage freeway. Upon entering Bloemfontein, the N1 meets the northern terminus of the N6 from East London. This intersection marks the beginning of the Bloemfontein Western Bypass, which is the first freeway section on the route since Paarl. The N8 from Kimberley in the west intersects with the N1 bypass, joining it for 3 km, before heading east through the Bloemfontein CBD and then to Maseru in Lesotho.

The N1 is designated as a toll road from the N6 interchange until its end at Beit Bridge. A few kilometres north of Bloemfontein, the N1 meets the R30 to Brandfort; the N1 continues as a single carriageway but with two lanes in each direction until 5 km before the toll plaza at Verkeerdevlei, halfway between Bloemfontein and Winburg. Initial plans were for the N1 from Bloemfontein to Winburg to be a dual-carriageway freeway. At Winburg, the N1 bypasses the town to the west as a dual carriageway and meets the western terminus of the N5, which bypasses the north of Lesotho before its own termination at the N3 in Harrismith. Just after Winburg, the N1 becomes a single carriageway again.

Many motorists from Cape Town heading for Durban travel the N1 to Winburg, and then N5 to Harrismith as an alternative to reach Durban via N3. This is due to the shorter distance between the two cities (1635 km for the N1, N5 & N3 route and 1710 km for the current N2 route), as well as the much better quality of this route compared with the N2, especially between Port Shepstone and Grahamstown (although that stretch of road has been improved in the past few years). However, after the new N2 Wild Coast Toll Route has been completed, the N2 will be the shorter road between Durban and Cape Town (1621 km).[4]

The N1 northbound as it enters Ventersburg (2015)

The N1 continues north and bypasses Ventersburg, where it becomes a dual carriageway again, before reaching Kroonstad. There, the R34 from Welkom joins the N1 freeway for 9 kilometres, bypassing Kroonstad Central to the east, before splitting from the N1 and making its own way towards Heilbron.[1]

After the dual carriageway freeway bypass of Kroonstad, the N1 returns to single carriageway status and heads towards the Vaal River and Gauteng as the Kroonvaal Toll Route. Just before passing into Gauteng at the Vaal River, the N1 becomes a dual-carriageway freeway and features another toll plaza (the Vaal Toll Plaza) just south of its major interchange with the R59 road, which provides access to the Vaal Triangle (Vereeniging and Sasolburg) in the east and Parys in the west.[1]


After crossing the Vaal River, the N1 continues towards Johannesburg, bypassing Vanderbijlpark and featuring another toll plaza at Grasmere. At the Misgund Interchange in the southern outskirts of Johannesburg, the N12 once again meets the N1, and they are co-signed northwards as one highway for 4 kilometers (bypassing Soweto) up to the Diepkloof Interchange, where the N12 splits off to become the Southern Bypass portion of the Johannesburg Ring Road. From just north of the Vaal River the N1 changes from being a tarred road to a concrete road, until just after meeting the N12. The R553 road off-ramp just before the Diepkloof Interchange marks the beginning of the N1 being an e-toll highway (with open road tolling).

The N1 then becomes the Western Bypass portion of the same ring road, passing through Johannesburg's western and north-western suburbs (forming Roodepoort's eastern boundary and passing through Randburg) before meeting the N3 (the Eastern Bypass portion of the Johannesburg Ring Road, which connects to Durban) and Johannesburg's own M1 freeway at the Buccleuch Interchange north-east of Sandton.

The N1 between Johannesburg and Pretoria as part of the Ben Schoeman Highway (2011).

The N1 then becomes the Ben Schoeman Highway, heading northwards towards Pretoria (Passing through Midrand); this section carries 300,000 vehicles per day and is purported to be the busiest stretch of road in South Africa. At the Brakfontein Interchange in Centurion, the N1 meets the N14 and they switch highways, with the N14 becoming the Ben Schoeman Highway northwards to Pretoria Central and the N1 becoming the Pretoria Eastern Bypass (named the Danie Joubert Freeway) towards the north-east, proceeding to intersect with the R21 Highway from O. R. Tambo International Airport at the Flying Saucer Interchange before Pretoria East. After the R21 interchange, the N1 proceeds in a more northerly direction through the eastern suburbs. East of Pretoria CBD, at the Proefplaas Interchange, the N4 National Route from Witbank in the east joins the N1 and they are one highway for a short distance northwards (12 km) before the N4 splits off to the west (named the Platinum Highway) towards Rustenburg.

The Proefplaas Interchange east of Pretoria Central marks the end of the N1 being an e-toll highway (it returns to having tollgates on the road). At the Rustenburg turn-off (interchange with the N4 Platinum Highway) is the Pumulani Toll Plaza on the N1 north and the Doornpoort Toll Plaza on the N4 west.

From the interchange with the N4 (Rustenburg turn-off), the N1 is tolled for the remainder of its length, with various toll plazas located along it (Including upon off-ramps). The N1 then heads to the north, bypassing Hammanskraal, and crosses into the Limpopo province.


The N1 then passes near Bela-Bela (previously Warmbaths) and Modimolle (previously Nylstroom). At the Modimolle exit, the freeway ends; the section of freeway between the Vaal River and Modimolle is the longest freeway in South Africa by route number at approximately 265 km (although there are two changes in the alignment of freeway in Gauteng, at Buccleuch and Brakfontein Interchanges; South Africa's longest continuous freeway is the N3 between Durban and Ladysmith, which is approximately 20 km shorter). The section from the Proefplaas Interchange in Pretoria to the Bela Bela exit is maintained by a private concessionaire, namely Bakwena,[5] under license from SANRAL.

The N1 then heads past Mokopane (previously Potgietersrus), where the N11 intersects it at the Nyl Toll Plaza (north off-ramp only) (leaving the N18 and the N17 as the only national roads that do not intersect with the N1), before heading to Polokwane (previously known as Pietersburg). The Polokwane Eastern Bypass is now used by traffic to loop around the Polokwane Town Centre (the N1 is no-longer the road passing through the town centre).

After Polokwane, the N1 heads north, crossing the Tropic of Capricorn before passing Louis Trichardt. The N1 then winds through the Soutpansberg Mountains (containing two short tunnels) as the Wyllie's Poort Pass before heading to Musina (passing the last tollgate before Musina). The Musina Western Bypass is now used by traffic to bypass the CBD to the west[6][7] (The N1 is no-longer the road passing through the town centre). The route then continues for 12 km to end at the Beit Bridge border crossing with Zimbabwe on the Limpopo River, where it crosses the river as the Alfred Beit Road Bridge and becomes the A4 road to Harare. The border on the other side of the Limpopo River is also called Beitbridge.


List of Coordinates
Southwest endin Cape Town33°54′52″S 18°25′26″E
N2 junctionin Cape Town33°55′12″S 18°26′07″E
N7 junctionin Cape Town33°53′07″S 18°31′53″E
N12 junctionnear Beaufort West32°22′36″S 22°31′37″E
N12 junctionat Three Sisters31°53′04″S 23°04′58″E
N10 junctionat Hanover31°04′32″S 24°25′56″E
N9 junctionat Colesberg30°44′00″S 25°05′07″E
N6 junctionnear Bloemfontein29°12′04″S 26°11′28″E
N8 junctionnear Bloemfontein29°07′37″S 26°09′49″E
N5 junctionat Winburg28°29′57″S 26°59′50″E
N12 junctionnear Soweto26°15′37″S 27°57′51″E
N3 junctionnear Sandton26°02′48″S 28°05′46″E
N14 junctionin Centurion25°52′41″S 28°10′08″E
N4 junctionnear Pretoria25°44′25″S 28°15′53″E
N11 junctionnear Mokopane24°17′13″S 28°58′53″E
Northeast endat Beit Bridge22°13′28″S 29°59′12″E

Trans-African Highway Network

The section of the N1 from Cape Town to the split with the N12 National Route at Three Sisters, Northern Cape is declared part of the Trans-African Highway Network no. 4 or Cairo-Cape Town Highway, which is the route designated by the United Nations between Cairo and Cape Town. (The route continues as the N12 northwards from Three Sisters)

Old Route

A section of dual-carriageway freeway on the N1 near Vanderbijlpark in Gauteng (2008)

In numerous places in South Africa, specifically near major cities, the N1 route has been rebuilt to freeway standards. The original routes usually carry the designation of R101 and are often alternative routes to the newer, sometimes tolled, highways. Two examples are the R101 over Du Toitskloof Pass, where the new N1 highway bypasses the pass altogether by use of the Huguenot Tunnel, and the R101 through Polokwane Central, where the new N1 highway bypasses the town centre by use of the Polokwane Eastern Bypass.

There are exceptions to the usual R101 alternative route designation:

  • The old N1 route from Colesberg to Bloemfontein is designated R717 up until Reddersburg, where it's designated N6 to Bloemfontein.[2]
  • The old N1 route through Bloemfontein is designated as the M30.
  • Between Bloemfontein and Winburg, the old route is designated firstly as the R30 between Bloemfontein and Brandfort and then is not designated to Winburg.[2]
  • Between Kroonstad and Parys, the old route is designated firstly as the R721 from Kroonstad to Vredefort and then as the R59 through Parys to the interchange with the N1 at the Vaal Toll Plaza, approximately 10 km south of the Vaal River.[2]
  • Between the Vaal River and Johannesburg, several alternative routes exist, the official alternative route being via the Golden Highway (R553). The old N1 route however followed the designation of the R42 through Vanderbijlpark to Vereeniging, and then the R82 leading to Johannesburg's M1 freeway.[2] The M1 as well as Old Pretoria Road and Louis Botha Avenue (together designated as the M11 Road) provide the alternative route through Johannesburg; near the Buccleuch Interchange (the point where the N1, M1 and N3 converge), the M11 becomes the R101, providing the alternative route through to Polokwane via Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria, Bela-Bela, Modimolle & Mokopane.


The list below only includes mainline toll plazas; e-Toll between Johannesburg and Pretoria, and ramp toll plazas have not been included.

Name Location Toll fees (as of 1 March 2020)[8]
Light vehicle Heavy vehicle (2 axles) Heavy vehicle (3/4 axles) Heavy vehicle (5+ axles)
Huguenot Toll Plaza Paarl
33°44′34″S 19°01′11″E
R41.50 R115.00 R179.00 R290.00
Verkeerdevlei Toll Plaza near Verkeerdevlei
28°47′56″S 26°41′26″E
R59.50 R119.00 R179.00 R251.00
Vaal Toll Plaza near Parys
26°51′23″S 27°38′07″E
R69.50 R130.00 R157.00 R209.00
Grasmere Toll Plaza Lenasia
26°24′41″S 27°53′03″E
R21.00 R62.00 R73.00 R96.00
Pumulani Toll Plaza N4 exit to Rustenburg
25°38′22″S 28°16′32″E
R12.50 R31.00 R36.00 R44.00
Carousel Toll Plaza between Pretoria and Bela Bela
25°19′22″S 28°17′52″E
R58.00 R155.00 R171.00 R198.00
Kranskop Toll Plaza between Bela Bela and Modimolle
24°46′54″S 28°28′17″E
R46.50 R119.00 R159.00 R195.00
Nyl Toll Plaza between Modimolle and Polokwane
24°17′23″S 28°58′44″E
R60.50 R113.00 R137.00 R183.00
Capricorn Toll Plaza between Polokwane and Louis Trichardt
23°22′01″S 29°46′30″E
R48.50 R133.00 R155.00 R195.00
Baobab Toll Plaza between Louis Trichardt and Musina
22°38′49″S 29°55′07″E
R47.00 R128.00 R176.00 R211.00


  1. Falkner, John (May 2012). South African Numbered Route Description and Destination Analysis (Report). National Department of Transport. pp. 1–6. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
  2. http://www.theheritageportal.co.za/sites/default/files/styles/adaptive/public/Department%20of%20Transport%20Map%20South%20Africa%201959.jpg?itok=TncXhikX
  3. "Western Cape toll roads a small part of Sanral project". The Mail & Guardian. 11 March 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2022.
  4. Etheridge, Jenna. "Court turns down N2 Wild Coast Road appeal". News24. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  5. "Home". Bakwena. Retrieved 19 February 2021.
  6. raeesakimmie (1 September 2022). "Newly constructed Musina Ring Road to alleviate congestion on N1". Review. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  7. Dzebu, Wilson (5 September 2022). "R640 million Musina Ring Road opens to the public". Musina Local Municipality. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  8. "Toll tariffs 2020" (PDF). South African National Roads Agency. Retrieved 18 December 2020.
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