The story of our company is the story of the Nelson region and the development of responsible, sustainable tourism in New Zealand.
We're just the right size!
Big enough to give you the best choices, small enough to show you real New Zealand hospitality.
Our Vision: to promote an appreciation of the National Park and its unique features by providing for visitors a responsible, informative and caring service. The Nelson region has been our home for 8 generations. Wilsons Abel Tasman involves three generations of our family, assisted by a team of dedicated professionals who love this region as much as we do. Meet the Team
Our Heritage: the story of our company is the story of the Nelson region and the development of responsible, sustainable tourism in New Zealand.
The Wilsons Abel Tasman Story
Descended from farmers, sailors, and builders, John and Lynette Wilson ventured into tourism in 1977 with a single launch service into Abel Tasman National Park. Today, they are assisted by their children and grandchildren, operating our award-winning business that offers the widest range of services for visitors to our favourite part of the world.
Lynette Wilson's great-great grandparents, the Newths and the Snows, sailed from England in 1841 with the first official British settlement fleet to Nelson. From the time one of their children, Amelia Newth, waded ashore ahead of the official landing party, our family's stories document determined women, dedicated men and inspired children through the tragedies and triumphs of the emerging nation of New Zealand. For the full story, read Awaroa Legacy co-authored by Lynette Wilson.
Our family history is the family business:
- 1841 - The Newth and Snow families arrive with the first fleet of European settlers to Nelson
- 1858 - George Snow marries Martha Newth. Adele is their eldest (surviving) child
- 1844 - Lynette Wilson's great-grandparents William and Adele (nee Snow) Hadfield build a grand home on the "finest site in the bay" on their farm, Meadowbank, at Awaroa, now within the boundaries of Abel Tasman National Park
- Early 1900's - William and Adele Hadfield's eldest son Fred lives with his wife Jessie (nee Winter) on their farm on the Awaroa River. (This land is in the process of being returned to the National Park)
- 1931 - Awaroa school closes. Lynette's mother, Mavis Hadfield, is the last school teacher in Awaroa
- 1940/50s - Visiting her grandparents, Fred and Jessie at Awaroa, Lynette witnesses the old house at Meadowbank fall into ruins
- 1942 - The coastal region between Marahau and Wainui is gazetted as a National Park to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman's visit to the coast
- 1968 - Lynette purchases a family holiday cottage in the Park at Torrent Bay
- 1977 - John Wilson (Lynette's husband) starts a commercial boat service along the Abel Tasman coast
- 1978-82 - Lynette serves refreshments and art work from a tent pitched in the garden of the Torrent Bay Cottage. As her four children grow up, they start to show visitors around the area
- 1982 - The Wilson family are granted a concession to conduct Guided Walks in the National Park. The family holiday cottage is rebuilt to enable guided walkers to stay overnight in the Park
- 1994 - After Lynette inherits land from her great-grandparents, her family rebuilds their ancestral home as Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa, to be included in the Wilson's guided trips
- 1995 - Sea Kayaking with professional Guides is introduced to the Wilson's holidays
- 1999 - The family's history published by Lynette in a hard cover book, Awaroa Legacy
- 2000 - As Abel Tasman National Park Experiences, we win NZ Tourism Award for Best Outdoor Activity
- 2001 - Torrent Bay Lodge undergoes its third rebuild and refurbishment to include 13 double rooms with ensuite bathrooms
- 2003 - Winners of Tasman District Council Heritage Award
- 2004 - Our Sea Fern brand is exclusively designed for us to represent the family's connection to the land and the sea, in the eye-catching colours of black and white; New Zealand's unofficial national colours
- 2005-7 - Changing our name to Wilson's Abel Tasman Experiences Ltd, we form a business alliance with sea kayak companies owned by local Maori Iwi of Wakatu Incorporation to assist them with their entry into the tourism industry. We set up a cadet training scheme to help members of local Iwi present their stories
- 2006 - A large part of the Hadfield estate (the largest single piece of privately owned land within the boundaries of Abel Tasman National Park) is bought by the Heritage Fund to be returned to the National Park
- 2006 Winners:
- Qualmark Mark of Quality at NZ Tourism Awards
- Business of the Year and Tourism Excellence at the Nelson Business Awards.
- 2007 - Trading name changed to Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park Ltd to make our family name dominant in the branding and help distinguish our company from other operators in the region
- 2008 -
- John Wilson awarded the Queen's Service Medal for his role in developing Abel Tasman National Park as a quality international destination
- Guest accommodation upgraded and two holiday cottages built at Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa
- State-of-the-art solar power installed at both Lodge
- Finalists Inbound Tourism Operators Council Operator of the Year Award
- 2009 - State-of-the-art catamaran, Abel Tasman Voyager, designed and built in New Zealand, introduced to operate our Vista Cruise services in the National Park
- 2010 -
- Abel Tasman Voyager hull extended for even better fuel efficiency and reduced wake at speed
- Judged best Visitor Attraction and Experience (small and medium) at the 2010 NZ Tourism Awards, Innovating for Success.
- 2011 - New Wilsons Abel Tasman website launched, allowing visitors to more easily compare our full range of experiences.
We look forward to an enjoyable and safe future with you - our guests!