The town of Piet Retief was founded in 1883.
The areas surrounding the town are used mainly for timber production although there is some mining. The Mondi Forest Pulp and Paper Plant is located nearby.
One of the main features of the town is the impressive Dutch Reformed Church building which was constructed in 1921.
The town serves as a central point for a number of outdoor activities including hiking, fishing and bird-watching.
Piet Retief is situated on the N2 highway which links Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. It sees a lot of through traffic and has many facilities to cater for tourists.