Zille told reporters she would stand her ground, that she had permission to be there, and that a group of ANC protesters had no permission to block the road leading to the homestead.
About 700m from where the Democratic Alliance entourage was stopped, police in riot gear prevented ANC supporters from advancing. Officers formed a human chain across the road, outside Zuma's residence, in the village of KwaNxamalala. Two water canons and several armoured Nyala vehicles were parked nearby.
The song Awulethu Mshini Wami (Bring me my machine gun) was blaring from a sound system. Some people carried placards reading: "Stop attacking Zuma".
Eight people lay down in the road and refused to move when police asked them to. ANC supporters spilled out of several buses that arrived earlier in the morning.
A police helicopter was in the air and officers were stopping vehicles heading in the direction of Zuma's compound, checking licences and identities.
The Democratic Alliance had planned to visit Zuma's private residence, where an upgrade, reportedly costing over R200-million, and funded with taxpayers' money, was in progress. Zille and DA had officials intended inspecting roads around the property and had planned to enter the compound.
The ANC and its allies have criticised the move.
'Nkandla belongs to each and every South African'
In a statement on Sunday, Zille said she and her colleagues had visited Nkandla "to see what a R250-million renovation with public money looks like".
"We felt it was important for us to see the compound for ourselves before we embark on court action against the president for this blatant abuse of power. This is state-sponsored corruption on an unprecedented scale. We cannot let him get away with it."
Zille said on October 16 the party had writted to Zuma and other government ministers, "asking for the truth about Nkandla".
"We got no response other than to acknowledge receipt of our letters. Today we are giving President Zuma and his government a further 72 hours to respond. If there is no substantive response by close of business on Wednesday 7 November, we will instruct our lawyers to make preparations to take him and the government to court over what is now known as ‘Nkandlagate'."
"The ANC has condemned our visit here today because they say this is the ‘private residence' of the president. They don't see the irony in that statement. It is exactly because this is the private residence of the president that this publicly funded upgrade is so wrong. When almost a quarter of a billion rand of public money is spent on a private residence, then it cannot be considered ‘private' any longer," said Zille in her statement.
"Nkandla belongs to each and every South African who has to sacrifice the basic services they need, so that the president could turn his home into a five-star fortressed palace. One day we will look at it as a monument to the fight against corruption, a reminder of a president who thought he could get away with stealing the people's money."
On Saturday the South African Communist Party said Zille's visit was part of a racist right-wing agenda.
In a statement SACP spokesperson Malesela Maleka warned the DA leader that she would have to take full responsibility for the consequences of the visit to Nkandla.
"The SACP is peeved by the ongoing DA cheap publicity stunts and reckless attempts to score political points," he said.
He said the visit was nothing more than a continuing attempt to insult Zuma.
On Friday the ANC warned that the DA could receive a welcoming similar to the stone-throwing that erupted in May when the opposition party tried to march to the Congress of South African Trade Unions' headquarters in Johannesburg. – Sapa