Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course

Permaculture Design Certificate +++


Want to live by doing what you love?

Struggling to find a way of life that matches your values?

This ten week course will change how you think and live forever.  If you are ready to make a difference in the world through your profession and chosen way of life,  join us next Autumn or Spring & learn how to live more sustainably. 

Autumn 2020 Super Early Bird Registration now until November 1st 

Why We Are Offering This Course

In this age of climate change, rampant pollution and so many unsustainable practices we humans need to learn to overcome, The Golden Bay Sustainable Living Centre team has expanded our commitment to land-based environmental education. 

With this course we seek to share the huge knowledge and skill base contained within our beautiful community of Golden Bay on all things sustainable with students from across New Zealand and from around the world. 

GBSLC vs a Traditional Permaculture Course
Designed for people who want the knowledge, skills & experience to make a difference as sustainability change agents, the main distinction between a traditional permaculture design course and our sustainable living course is the personal project.  Over ten weeks, participants work with the guidance of a mentor in our community to develop a project or research an idea. Maybe you want to start a composting business, a market garden or community market?  Maybe you have a building project, or have ideas around healthy food? You may pick a project of your choice that fits within the parameters and intents of the course. 

Students from the International Honors Programme out of Boston University participating in a building workshop at the GBSLC as part of the IHP tour of New Zealand. 

Best Value Permaculture Design Course

GBSLC is the best value course of its kind that we have been able to find and we've had a good look around.  We found six month courses that meet one weekend a month, three week intensives, and short 1-4 day workshops that focus on one small piece of one of our core areas.  These range in price from $600NZ to $3000NZ, the latter being for a three week permaculture design course. ($3000 did include food and accommodation but was less than 1/3 the length of ours.) 


So we feel confident telling you that if you want in depth learning about sustainable practices and the knowledge to develop your own amazing project, there is nothing comparable to GBSLC.  Developing your project alone makes this course a valuable investment in your future success.


Our goal is for all of you to leave with a renewed sense of hope and a focused direction for your lives. 

Course Methods

Learn in paradise with some of the world's leading local experts through interactive tutorials, hands on practical work, challenges and field trips. You will visit some of the wealth of living examples of sustainable practices within Golden Bay like a 30 year old intentional community and a famous local music & restaurant venue that embodies sustainable practices. You will hear the stories of conscious, local businesses and experience first hand how they work, be a part of our Harvest Festival & Living Wood Fair (in Autumn only) and much more. 

About Golden Bay

Golden Bay has been identified by our spokesperson for Primary Industries, Hon Damien O'Connor, as the perfect place to be THE sustainable region of New Zealand.  In truth we have incredible people, resources, and projects already happening, but we are far from there yet. You will be part of and witness to an on-going adventure to make our region reach its full potential as an example to the country and the world.  The Sustainable Living Course itself is part of that journey. Come and join us and be part of our history.

Course Content

Our 10 week ‘Sustainable Living Course’ offers a compelling menu of hands-on, experiential learning modules covering seven core areas plus your personal research project. Course participants will enjoy super dynamic healthy organic lunches, lots of fun, some of the best learning needed to survive and thrive in the 21st Century and all the support you need personally in getting your best visitor experience in beautiful magical Golden Bay.

The course covers: 

  • Personal Well-Being

  • Permaculture Design

  • Organic Food Growing

  • Food Harvesting, Preparation & Preservation

  • Alternative Building

  • Resilient Community

  • Project Management &Sustainable Business

  • Personal Project

John Massey

Personal Well-Being 

Sustainable living begins with self-care through self-awareness and healthful habits.  We offer a toolkit to help you achieve a strong, happy, vibrant body, mind & soul, so that you have the energy vitality & presence to achieve your dreams. 

  • Self Care

  • Diet & Nutrition

  • Positive Attitudes

  • Non Toxic Living

Well-being tools will be infused throughout the course.

More info...

Robina McCurdy

Permaculture Design

Learn the whole systems approach and application of the smartest design system available for land and neighbourhood based sustainability. Tutors include some of the world's leading lights in permaculture.   Highlights: 

  • the principles of permaculture design and how to implement them

  • the economics of looking after the house/place/Earth

  • climate & how to work in different microclimates or how to affect them

  • relevant principles of geology & topography

  • how to design a property taking into consideration the needs of the clients & care of the Earth

  • where to site different major elements ex. house, sheds, driveway 

  • More info...

Sol Morgan

Organic Growing

Learn the A-Z of why heathy soil = healthy plants = healthy animals and healthy people.  Highlights:

  • the difference between conventional and organic growing

  • soil preparation methods eg. forking, mech, tilling, no dig, double dig

  • the role of weeds and how to make friends with weeds

  • organic weed and pest control
  • how to sow and propagate seedlings

  • the role of soil in growing plants & how to feed soil

  • how to make quality compost/vermicasteorganic weed & pest control

  • making and using organic fertilizers

  • seed saving, harvesting and eating

  • More info...

Kerryn Easterbrooke

Food Harvesting, Preserving & Preparation

From the garden to the table you will learn why food is our sustenance, our medicine and our fuel and how best we can work with the good food nature gives us. Highlights:

  • the difference between raw food & cooked food for the body & health

  • different eating styles with meat, vegetarianism, veganism,their benefits and issues

  • skills in harvesting, prepping & cooking simple meals

  • the role of herbs in cooking and their benefits

  • how to measure and identify nutrient dense food

Food Challenge Week 


Food Challenge Week frames this module. You will build your business & food prep skills with Kerryn and Thalea, our awesome tutors, as you vision, plan & execute (for want of a better word) a popup cafe using organic, locally grown, seasonal ingredients — in only 5 days!  


It’s real life learning at its best.   

Graeme Scott

Alternative Building

From composting toilets, grey water systems, clean local energy systems to micro homes, eco architecture non toxic and affordable building and eco farming lifestyles, - It's all in here. Highlights: 

  • how does building design fit into our environment

  • the value of practical and simple buildings

  • how to evaluate and find local materials for building

  • the use of sound building materials that are local, non-toxic & ecological

  • the use of alternative power systems: solar, wind, water

  • various styles of buildng - tiny homes, eco home

  • to be aware of building regulations and the thinking required work in or around them

  • how to deal with and build waste water and sewage system

  • More info...

Robina McCurdy

Community Resilience

You will explore Golden Bay as a unique bioregion and determine the real meaning of resilience and how we can become more so from a permaculture design perspective. We will examine what is working already and what needs to change.  You will experience our Community Board, local sustainable businesses including a local organic grocery, the community housing trust, study our crisis management plan, and much more. 


  • how to live simply by asking what do we really need?

  • how resilient models work around the world

  • how do systems of sharing work e.g. maker spaces, carpooling

  • how could the Golden Bay community be more resilient especially in the areas of food, people, housing

  • the importance of knowing who is around you, respect, listening, and awareness of the well-being of others

  • the importance of interconnectedness

Project Management & Sustainable Business

Sustainable business is the business of economic and ecological sustainability for personal projects and planetary change.  It is vital that our work and life passions are aligned in such a way as to benefit ourselves, our clients, and our planet. 


  • role of alternative money systems: WEVE, HANDS, time bank, sharing, barter

  • how to make your passion your work

  • how to take an idea and make it a business

  • how to craft a business plan

  • how to budget

  • how sustainable businesses in Golden Bay operate

  • what’s involved in self employment

  • get clear on your goals

  • use the latest agile tools for project management

  • and more...

This module will be the container for the development of your personal project. 

Personal Project

In many ways the personal project is the most important part of the course.  Through your project, you will engage in depth in an aspect of sustainability you are passionate about. 

You will develop your project with the project management skills gained in this course and regular sessions with your mentor. 

We will assist you in setting goals at the beginning of the course and match you with a suitable mentor, so that you will have plenty of time.  

You may choose from any of the core areas of the course and related topics.  For example: you may choose to focus on developing a sustainable business in every sense of the word: financially, ecologically and personally or deepen your knowledge of building a tiny home or running a community garden.

At the completion of the course you will present your project to your fellow students, mentors, & tutors and potentially to our wider community. 

Course Details



Autumn 2020 - Sunday March 8th - Friday May 15th 2020

Spring 2020 - Sunday September 20th - Friday November 27th


Tutors: Sol Morgan, John Massey, Robina McCurdy, Thalea Tane, Kerryn Easterbrook, Graeme Scott
Click here for tutor information.

Location: Golden Bay, New Zealand, at the top of the South Island. 

Autumn 2020 Standard Course Fees: 
$3200 NZ/AU residents.

$3500 International 

Includes lunch on most days. 

Please add gst of 15%.  See Early Bird details below. 

Class Logistics: Sustainable Living classes are held five days a week from 8:45 am -12:30 pm and 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm with breaks for morning and afternoon tea and lunch. Days will vary as some weekend time may be involved.  Field trips may make the day longer at times.  You should also plan to work on your personal project during the week at your discretion including meeting with your mentor. Days to work on your personal project will be provided towards the end of the course especially in the last week. 


Experiential tours of Golden Bay sustainable businesses, craft shops, bee-keeping, alternative buildings, organic farms and other attractions are included in the course.  On your days off you will have the wonders of Golden Bay, a natural paradise of beaches, untouched bush, the Abel Tasman, and Kahurangi Parks, clear rivers, and much more to explore at your leisure. 

BYOD: It is our goal to make our course as sustainable as possible.  For that reason, 80% or more of the course materials will only be available digitally. Therefore, you will definitely need your own laptop or other device to be able to access the course materials. If this is not possible, we may be able to print you a set of materials. The cost of printing will be the responsibility of the student. 

Accommodations: We will assist you in finding accommodations in the area. There are many options from private rooms in a family home to backpackers (hostel), to B & B, to camping in local campsites  Cost of accommodation is not included in pricing.  You should allow between $100 and $180/week for accommodation. We highly recommend you join "Golden Bay Community Noticeboard" on Facebook and "Takaka Buy, Rent, Sell." 

Arrival: Please plan to arrive in Golden Bay by Friday before the start of the course to give yourself a chance to settle in & meet the coordinator for your introduction and onboarding to the course. The last scheduled time for onboarding is the Saturday prior to the course. 

Sunday Social: There will be a social mixer with students and tutors the Sunday evening before the course starts. All students are expected to be there and appreciated for doing so. 

Getting Here: The nearest airport is Nelson & there is a shuttle available from the airport Golden Bay Coachlines. Your final destination is Takaka. 

Participants flying in from overseas - fly into Christchurch or Auckland then connect through to Nelson. You can also fly directly from Wellington to Golden Bay via Golden Bay Airlines.

Weather:   You will be in Golden Bay for Fall/Autumn or Spring/Summer arguably the best times of year to be here.  Generally days stay warm enough for swimming in local rivers and at the beach from December through April.  Mornings and evenings can be cooler.  Early Spring weather is somewhat erratic and can feel like summer one day and like winter the next. So be prepared for anything. You can also expect some rainy days. For the most part though, days are warm and sunny, sometimes even hot. 

Fall/Autumn March - May 2020

Payments options: 


Price: $3200 NZ/AU residents.

$3500 International 

Please add gst of 15%

Deposit: $350 non-refundable due upon registration. 


Super Early Bird Registration by November1st 

$2750 + gst NZ/AU residents

$2950 + gst International


Early Bird Registration by January 3rd

$2950 NZ/AU residents

$3200 International 


Late Registration after February 9th: add $125.


After registration, you will make regular payments with payments completed by February 9th, 2020. 

Spring September - November 2020

Payments options: 

Price: $3200 NZ/AU residents.

$3500 International 

Please add gst of 15%

Deposit: $350 non-refundable due upon registration. 


Super Early Bird Registration by April 1st, 2020

$2750 + gst NZ/AU residents

$2950 + gst International


Early Bird Registration by May 15th, 2020

$2950 NZ/AU residents

$3200 International 


Late Registration after August 20th: add $125.

After registration you will make regular payments with all payments completed by August 20th, 2020.