Dinner and a spot: Eating pizza in Waitara’s ‘secret’ rose garden


The Waitara Rose Garden is a quiet and tranquil place to eat and think about life.

Deena Coster/staff

The Waitara Rose Garden is a quiet and tranquil place to eat and think about life.

I like to think of Waitara Rose Garden as a ‘secret’ place.

It’s only one block off the main road, so it’s not hidden or difficult to access, but it’s always empty.

And when the roses are in full bloom, the sun shines and monarch butterflies float overhead. The simple environment created by the Donaldson Rose Garden becomes a picturesque setting for eating and contemplating life.

A recent visit was to road test the place to check out the picnic possibilities.

My meal of choice was a Hawaiian pizza topped with pulled pork purchased from Wayfinders Cafe on McLean Street.

Waitara's Wayfinders Cafe pizza hit the spot. Reporter Deena Coster chose the Hawaiian option topped with pulled pork.

Deena Coster/staff

Waitara’s Wayfinders Cafe pizza hit the spot. Reporter Deena Coster chose the Hawaiian option topped with pulled pork.

I know Hawaiian pizza has its fair share of critics, but this pizza was extremely dry.

The crispy base was the perfect platform to host other flavors on top, enhanced by a refreshing burst of pineapple.

There was also plenty of golden melted cheese (always a test of good pizza) but I didn’t feel lazy to eat it.

I sat on a park bench in the garden, but a table would have been better.

If I have any complaints about my venue of choice, it must be the lack of user friendly facilities.

Deena Koster, reporter for the Taranaki Daily News, covers dinner and spots at the Donaldson Rose Garden in Waitara.

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Deena Koster, reporter for the Taranaki Daily News, covers dinner and spots at the Donaldson Rose Garden in Waitara.

There are no picnic tables or trash cans, except for bench seating which has seen better days, so if you visit, be sure to bring a rug to sit on and take your trash with you.

But the good things about the place outweigh the bad.

The Rose Garden has been a regular hangout for me for years. Always quiet, protected and peaceful.

In fact, it can be sweltering in the height of summer as the towering trees provide a shelter from the wind.

Waitara's rose garden in full bloom is picture-perfect, with monarch butterfly sightings and tush calls.

Deena Coster/staff

Waitara’s rose garden in full bloom is picture-perfect, with monarch butterfly sightings and tush calls.

I love the beach, but when I enjoy my meal in the rose garden, I don’t have to worry about the threat of pesky seagulls or sandflies.

You’re more likely to hear a twee’s signature chirping or a kereruu flapping its wings too much.

Overall, my dinner at Donaldson Rose Garden was a simple meal in a simple place.

You can’t ask for more than that as a way to spend a summer day.



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