Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course


There has never been a more critical time

to build our skills for a genuinely sustainable future.  

The one-of-a-kind 10 week Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course

will change how you think and live forever.  

Are you ready to design a life that matches your values,?
This course will give you the knowledge and skills you need

to make your life and our world more sustainable. 

Course Overview

Course Methods

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 healthy organic lunches, lots of fun, some of the best learning needed to survive and thrive in the 21st Century and 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

  • Sustainable Eating:
    Food Harvesting, Preparation and Preserving

  • Natural  Building

  • Community Resilience

  • Project Management &Sustainable Business

  • Personal Project

How You Learn

Learn in paradise with some of the world's leading local experts through interactive tutorials, hands on practical work 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).  

There are two projects. Your main design project for your Permaculture Design Certificate. You will work in a group with a real client to complete a full design for their property.  

In addition you will complete a personal project allowing you to synthesise the relevant  learning from all the course modules.  This project is deliberately open-ended allowing your to tailor it into a meaningful, productive exercise for your life. 

Course Content

Personal Well-Being


The 10 week Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course can be quite demanding mentally, physically and emotionally, just like life.

The sessions of the well-being module are particularly designed to give balance and harmony through simple movement practices, mindfulness and other practices such as in the development of the senses, reflexology, yoga and meditation. They are essential practices for living and practicing personal sustainability.

Beginning March 2021, Possibility Management is being introduced as a framework for personal growth and healing.  Held by Ana Norambuena, PM will form a core piece of this journey to planetary sustainability. 

More info...

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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...

Organic Growing

Following the principles of healthy soil, healthy plants and healthy animals you’ll learn how to grow food that not only nurtures your Being but also helps heal the earth we live on. 


The organic growing module is brought to you by Sol Morgan, an experienced gardener and educator, husband and father, and Course cofounder. 

Over approximately nine weeks you will have a blend of theory, observation and practical experience. Theory will be covered using power points and demonstrations in an interact fun way. During the many field trips we do in the module you’ll get an opportunity to see many different ways the core principles of organics are displayed as well as hone your observational skills. On several of these field trips you’ll get a chance to get your hands dirty and lend a hand.


Over the duration of the programme you’ll also help grow the produce the Centre provides to feed the future volunteers, students and visitors who choose to get involved.


Topics covered include principles & garden design, soil health and soil assessment, bed preparation and planting, plant knowledge, propagation and seed saving, pests and diseases and beneficial insects, fruit growing and propagation, tree planting and commercial horticulture.


By the end you will have deepened your awareness of how to work with natural ecosystems to create diverse, productive, healthy ecosystems. 

More info

Sustainable Eating: Food Harvesting, Preparation & Preserving


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. 


Tutor, Kerryn Easterbrook will lead you on an exploration of how we can take the steps to becoming conscious consumers of what we are eating.

You will get to know what is available from local growers & producers as well as wild food harvesting.  We will visit local cafes to see what they are doing from a sustainability angle.

Kerryn will share practical skills on fermenting foods, sproutings foods, & how to preserve all the abundance you will grow in your own gardens so you can enjoy them throughout the year.


You will also learn about wholefoods, nutrient dense foods, superfoods, use of herbs in cooking, make your own plant based milks, smoothies & pestos.


Kerryn would like you to take away a desire to start experimenting with making your own food as well as becoming more aware where all of your food comes from, so you can make conscious food choices. 

Natural Building


Go on a journey with tutor, Rita Scholten as she expertly guides you through the whole process of using natural materials for building structures. 


She will explain techniques and information followed by immediate applicationr as you build a new space on her property up the road from the Centre. 


Techniques covered include mudbrick, cob, light earth and cordwood. Also incorporated are learning grey water management & passive solar principles.


You will also learn the difference between a sick vs healthy home, how to choose materials for your climate and a introduction to simple off-grid systems. 

More info...

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Community Resilience

The goal of this module is to show you the many aspects needed for a community to thrive whether it be a big city or a community of two.


With this end in mind, 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, & study our crisis management plan. 


A study of group dynamics and conflict resolution is included with many tools that you can apply to your personal lives and to any organisation you run or are a part of.


  • 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

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Project Management & Sustainable Business


Your tutor, Zahra Lightway, will guide you in developing your personal project as a start up business or other project of your choice. She has a wealth of experience in startups including the Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course. 


This module will feature short dynamic group collaborative sessions designed to move each student’s project forward super fast, as well as longer instructional sessions teaching the main points of project management tools and designing and writing a business plan. The tools you will learn can be applied to any and all projects and even your life. 


What Is Sustainable Business and Why Does It Matter?


“A truly sustainable business is both economically and ecologically sustainable for people and for the environment. It is fair, just and equitable in its dealings with all stakeholders.”

This definition is only one of many possible ways to view the concept of sustainable business. We will explore this concept and create our own definition to evaluate local businesses and our projects. 

There is a wealth of knowledge and experience in Golden Bay and it is often surprising for us to find out just how challenging it can be to be truly sustainable and exciting to see over the obstacles are overcome. 


Being sustainable in our business practices is so important because moving forward, it is vital that our work and life passions are aligned in such a way as to benefit ourselves, our clients, and our planet.  We must love what we do and do what we love. That is the essence of a sustainable life. 

Content Highlights: 

  • How to make your passion your work.

  • The role of alternative money systems: WEVE, HANDS, time bank, sharing, barter and how they can be applied to businesses and projects. 

  • 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.

  • Holistic goal-setting

  • The latest agile tools for project management

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. 

Why We Are Offering The Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course

GBSLC students are of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. 

We want to help people who are tired of struggling in the system working without joy, wishing they knew how to live happier, healthier, more fulfilling, and more sustainable lives.

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 distinctions between a traditional permaculture design course and our sustainable living course are that no other PDC in the world offers the personal project, and the length and depth of learning. Over ten weeks, participants work with the guidance of a mentor 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 Spring 2019 Golden Bay Sustainable Living Course learning seed propagation. 

Best Value Permaculture Design Course In New Zealand and the World. 

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. 

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 Details


Autumn 2021 - Sunday March 7th - Sunday May 16th 2021

Spring 2021 - Sunday September 5th to Sunday November 19th.

Note: Beginning September 2021, the course will now be 11 weeks. 


Tutors: Sol Morgan, John Massey, Robina McCurdy, Zahra Lightway Kerryn Easterbrook, Ana Norambuena, Rita Scholten. 


Click here for tutor information.

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

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. 

Accommodation: We have decided to offer inexpensive, basic accommodation at the Centre. You can pitch a tent, park up a van, rent our very modest little caravan or share a sleeping space upstairs in our Earthouse. Please contact us for details. We can also assist you in finding other accommodation 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 asked 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. 

Course Fees

Fall/Autumn March - May 2021

Payments options: 


Super Early Bird Registration by January 1st, 2021

$3500 + gst 

Full Price after November 30th $3800 + gst

Deposit: 10% non-refundable due upon registration. 

After registration, you can pay in full or make payments on the 7th of each month with payments completed by February 7th, 2021. 

Spring September - November 2021

Payments options: 

Full Price: $3800 + gst (15%)

Deposit: 10% non-refundable due upon registration. 


Early Bird by April 1st, 2021

$3500 + gst NZ/AU residents


After registration you may pay in full or make montlhy payments. All payments completed by August 6th, 2020.