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World of Light and Life

The name Ao Marama comes from the Maori creation story and can be translated as ‘World of Light and Life’.

The land has been virgin native bush, farmland, scrubland and now regenerating native bush - and was started as a retreat over 30 years ago and has had various inceptions including a spiritual centre and a Buddhist retreat.

The land has been developed using organic and permaculture based principles - there are over 100 fruit and berry trees, several garden beds, two greenhouses as well as free range chickens and Kune Kune pigs - first class compost makers!

The location between two national parks means we are blessed with many native birds you can have close up encounters with Weka, Kereru, Tui, Piwakawaka, Waxeyes, Bellbirds or if you are lucky Morepork, as well as our resident Swallows and California Quails.


We are passionate about the regenerating native bush and with Golden Bay's unique climate most New Zealand native trees and ferns grow here - predominantly situated in stands of Kanuka we have many examples of other specimens throughout the property from young AkeAke, Totara, Toro, Beech and Rimu to large tree ferns like Ponga and Mamaku.


Your Host Family

Hello - we are Duan and Elizabeth a couple of Kiwis who met while living in London and share a love of travelling, music, food and the outdoors. 

In 2018 after being away for nearly 20 years we decided to move home with our kids Niko, Bonnie and Mazzy to be closer to family and be a lot closer to nature - and that is when we found the retreat...


We are passionate about our planet and want to contribute positively to it by being ecologically focussed, leaving a positive legacy whilst providing an authentic and welcoming experience for travellers from all walks of life.


We are learning and applying Permaculture, Organic Gardening, Natural Building, Bee Keeping, Native Bush care, and love sharing our journey on our little piece of the planet.


Fabulous Wharariki Beach at sunset.

Beyond the Retreat

Ao Marama is in Golden Bay which is an area of exceptional natural beauty and world class attractions. 


Directly from the retreat you can follow our bush track down to the beautiful and near deserted Collingwood beach to relax, swim or even catch a fish.

Walking a further 25 minutes along the beach brings you to the magical Milnthorpe Forest and Scenic reserve.


Beyond that Golden Bay offers many unique and stunning attractions – from an Eco Tour to Farewell Spit, Walking the Heaphy Track, Mountain Biking former Gold Mining routes, fishing for Salmon, Rock Climbing and Caving or discovering many of the stunning beaches including Wharariki and Tata or experiencing the clearest freshwater in the southern hemisphere at Pupu springs. Discover Golden Bay

See some of our favourite businesses from around the Bay Here

Come and stay with us...

Come and stay at Ao Marama Retreat in one of our six cabins or main Lodge, or hire the entire Retreat for a private group gathering.

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