find your secret place

The Donkin Reserve is also known by the name of Donkin Hill and is sometimes referred to as the Balcony to Mandela Bay. It is a public area that can be traversed on foot within 10 minutes. There are numerous monuments on this reserve that is also the site of the Lighthouse of Port Elizabeth. The Donkin Reserve has been declared a Provincial Heritage site.

The reserve has beautiful palm lined walk ways and benches that a visitor can enjoy. It is located close to the city centre of Port Elizabeth and commands magnificent views of Mandela Bay and the harbour. It was declared an open space in perpetuity by its founder Sir Rufane Donkin, in honour of his wife Elizabeth, after whom the City is named.

The Reserve/Hill

This public space is being developed into a comprehensive multifaceted monument with an investment of R18 million for upgrades. It is being financed by the Mandela Bay Development Agency. The whole reserve is an historical site and is fast becoming one of the main attractions for tourists especially from overseas.

The Nelson Mandela Voting Line Sculpture

The sculpture is made up of 48 two dimensional figures of voters standing in line to vote at the first democratic elections in South Africa. They are all strung together and incorporates a two dimensional image of Nelson Mandela. 

The Flagpole

This is no ordinary flagpole and has to have reinforced supports as it holds up the largest South African flag in the world.

Lighthouse Keepers Cottage

The Lighthouse Keeper's cottage now houses the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism and Information Centre and the Greenleaf Café Coffee Shop.

Donkin Lighthouse

This is the original lighthouse of Port Elizabeth that was built in 1861. It was later raised because the city lights were interfering with its beam. It has been declared a National Monument. Visitors find it a boon when taking photographs as they can get wonderful views from the top of the lighthouse of the bay area and the city centre.

The Donkin Memorial (Pyramid)

This is a monument made of bricks in the shape of a pyramid with a very touching inscription and was erected by Sir Rufane in memory of his late wife. The inscription on the small plaque which reads: “To the memory of one of the most perfect of human beings who has given her name to the Town below”.

The love story of Sir Rufane Donkin

Sir Rufane Donkin was widowed after only 3 years of marriage when his wife died 8 months after giving birth to their son. He was devastated and when he was sent to South Africa he found a nameless town overlooking the sea and named it after his late wife. He built the pyramid by the lighthouse as a monument to her. He married again but on the day that would have been the 26th anniversary of his first wedding he committed suicide.

The Mosaic Floor

In front of the pyramid memorial is a beautifully designed multi-coloured mosaic walkway.

Statue by Anton Momberg

A fairly new addition to the site is a statue by the artist Anton Momberg. It was installed on the 2 August 2011 on National Women’s Day and is dedicated to all the women who have made a contribution to the city. The statue is of a woman offering a chair and facing the pyramid and the rising sun.

Route 67 Art Trail

The art pieces at this site form part of the trail that begins at the base of the flag pole in the reserve and a follows a route of 67 artworks along the beach front and towards the centre of the city and ending in the Reserve where it started. This trail represents 67 years of Mandela’s life that he gave to this country.

Attractions Nearby Donkin Reserve


Open areas: 24 hours a day


No Charge


Created: ; Last updated: