The Story Behind “Voortrekker”


Voortrekker is the word used to describe the Dutch (Afrikaner) people who, in the 17th century trekked inland and north from the Cape of Good Hope to escape British rule and find their own land. They did so in ox-wagons and occupied vast areas of Southern Africa until their independence was taken from them in the Boer War (circa 1900). They were tough, god-fearing, self-sufficient people that lived off the land.

The story of Piet and Niki Steenkamp is similar in many respects. Piet, a descendant of the Voortrekkers and Niki moved permanently from South Africa to the UK in 1999. They visited Shetland in 2008 and fell in love with it.

So began their “trek” north! Piet says “When the Voortekkers set off north nobody told them where to stop, so he just kept going as far north as he could go”.

Similar to the Voortrekkers they moved from Southampton to the Shetland Islands in an old station wagon towing a caravan which, after the addition of two containers, became their home for four years while Piet almost singlehandedly built “Voortrekker”. This is a remarkable achievement, working come rain or shine and a testament to both his origins and ingenuity.  He built not only their home, but the basis of a first class tourist facility. It was built after gathering an understanding of all the trades involved and by showing great resourcefulness and craftsmanship.  He used recycled timber from a local church for doors, windowsills and cupboards, recycled roof slate for wall tiles and installed an efficient under floor heating system, fired using peat in a Rayburn stove more than fifty years old. Piet and Niki acknowledge with thanks the fellowship, input and support from the neighbours, local church and South Mainland community. Although not entirely complete we ask for your patience when visiting whilst we continue with minor work around the property.

Voortekker is positioned with a stunning “infinity” view of the sea overlooking old crofts. Amongst the sheep in the surrounding crofts their land and home is share with two whimsical goats, four chickens, one rooster and to peerie dogs.  

A superb and beautiful base from which to enjoy what Shetland has to offer.