KwaZulu-Natal, with the magnificent Drakensberg mountains forming its western boundry, is the primary water catchment area for South Africa. The harvesting of this major resource is through a series of large dams set in the upper catchments of the province's major rivers such as the Thukela, the Bushmans and the Umgeni. As part of a scheme to gain the maximum social benefit from these large state controlled water impoundments, KZN Wildlife manages four state dams in the province.

The land areas around these dams are proclaimed nature reserves and facilities are provided for nature based recreational activities. These reserves have intrinsic conservation value in terms of vegetation, habitats and the wildlife that occurs there, and have been restocked with appropriate species where necessary.
They range in area from the tall grasslands of north western KwaZulu-Natal, through valley bushveld along the Thukela and Bushnans rivers, to the gently rolling hills of the Natal midlands where the Umgeni river spills out of the Umgeni Vlei, an important Wattled Crane habitat, through a series of four large dams into the Indian Ocean.

The four dams managed by KZN Wildlife offer a variety of accommodation that ranges from a lodge, chalets and camping grounds to a hunting camp. Activities range from fishing , yachting, skiing, power boating, cycling and horse riding . to bird watching and game viewing and in the case of Chelmsford and Spioenkop, special areas have been set aside for hunting.

These dams have become very important to the people who live in the adjacent towns and yacht clubs and angling clubs form the focus of many social activities associated with water recreation. They are also the venues for many provincial and national sporting events