Meet Our Team
Wilsons Abel Tasman involves three generations of our family, assisted by a great team of dedicated professionals who love this region as much as we do.
Click on the hide and reveal links below to read the stories of each of the fantastic people who make up the Wilsons team - our Guides, Drivers, Launch Hosts, Lodge Hosts and the Admin team.
A 'real' local, Shay was born in Nelson. Working with us since 1998 he is now our Operations Manager. His love for the outdoors and a desire to inspire other people with our amazing country, means he was destined to be a guide in Abel Tasman National Park. With certificates in Outdoor Recreation and Management, he is also a qualified Seakayak Instructor and has his Local Launch Operator licence.
One of New Zealand's most experienced guides, John's association with Abel Tasman National Park traces back to his grandfather who settled in the area in the late 1890's. The park is literally John's back yard - about 700 metres of the Coastal Track pass through his family's land. An experienced mountain climber, John worked as a mountain guide on Mount Cook but was compelled to return to his home territory.
Born in the North Island, our Daily Operations Supervisor first visited the Abel Tasman as a boy scout at the age of 11, moving to Nelson with his parents 2 years later. He started work as a Panel Beater, but his love of the outdoors led him to gain qualifications as a Glacier, Rafting and Sea Kayak Guide at Nelson Marlborough Istitute of Technology and Whenua Iti. He has spent many of our winter months enjoying the English summer, pouring beers at his parent's pub at Cartmel in the Lakes District. The pub is now sold but Adam can still pour a good beer at our Lodges.
Whitey (Andy White)
Most Guides grow up with an aversion to office work and Whitey is no exception. Born in Christchurch, he has a Diploma in Outdoor Management and Leadership from the Otago Sports Institute, winning the institute's Ambassador Award in his final year. After 3 years guiding with us, he took a year off to explore British Columbia, Canada, skiing on Red Mountian (Rossland) and Sea Kayak guiding around Quadra Island (off Vancouver Is). Whitey continues to be an ambassador for adventure (either passive or active) on your trip into the Abel Tasman.
Despite a Greek name and English accent, Marios has earned his status as Kiwi, working as a Guide in the North and South Islands since 1999 and writing 18 walking and historical guides to regions in New Zealand, for Reed Publishing. With a degree in Geography from Sheffield University, he started his career in tourism as a host at chalets in the French Alps, meeting his New Zealand-born wife at a ski resort in Vaujany. They are raising their two children at Ngatimoti, an idyllic rural community beside the Motueka River.
Originally from Holland, Sjors was living in London and decided to visit New Zealand in 2004 with his English wife because it would be nicer to celebrate his birthday in January during a summer. With a background as a sports instructor (sailing and kayaking) in Holland and Lake Windermere, England, Sjors has been with our guiding team since 2006. Using his skills as a computer tutor and social worker, he is also a budgeting consultant with the Family Service Centre charitable trust in Motueka. His favourite part of working in the Abel Tasman is kayaking during the crystal clear days of our mild winter months.
Sam is an 8th generation Nelsonian, bringing a wealth of local knowledge and enthusiasm to his job. He joined us in 2008 fresh from studying Outdoor Recreation leadership at Tai Poutini Polytec, Greymouth (South Island West Coast). He spends his winters at Treble Cone Ski Area, and is now a qualified Ski Patroller.
A native of Oamaru and citizen of the world since 1997, Dave prefers Walk/Kayak Guiding after a season as a Camel Guide in Egypt. During his travels, Dave has studied language in Germany and worked as a Raft and Kayak Instructor/Guide in Germany and Austria. During European winters, he returns to New Zealand summers and has completed his Diploma in Adventure Tourism from Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. He has been guiding in Abel Tasman National Park since 2004. Last winter, Dave learned that cars are more reliable than donkeys for transport options.
Originally from Hawkes Bay (North Island), Emma gained her Diploma in Outdoor Recreation from Christchurch Polytec (CPIT). Whilst instructing for 6 months at Appalachian State University, (North Carolina, USA) in 2007 she took 20 students to Abel Tasman National Park and has been guiding with us in the Park since 2008. As well as being a qualified SKOANZ guide, she has just earned her Inshore Launch Master's ticket, so you might find her skippering one of our Water Taxis this year.
A true South Islander, Shannon was brought up on a deer farm in the McKenzie country. She discovered her passion for the outdoors in her final year of High School, attending the Outdoor Pursuits Program in Wanaka. After a year as a nanny in Connecticut (USA) she decided the outdoors was where she wanted to be, so studied for her diploma in outdoor leadership and management at Otago Polytechnic. As a rock climber, Shannon enjoys getting the adrenaline going but saves those sort of adventures for her days off. This is her second year guiding for us in Abel Tasman National Park.
Hailing from Hawkes Bay, Tim first came to the South Island in 2009 for an Outward Bound course at Nelson Lakes. He took a gap year working for Camp America in Oregon, then returned home to complete a diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin. This is his first year guiding in Abel Tasman National Park.
Originally from the UK, Dave decided a career in Adventure Tourism was best pursued in New Zealand where qualifications and opportunities suited his goals. Gaining a Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management from Otago Polytechnic, his work experience internship was spent with us in April 2012. He returns to the Abel Tasman to work with our guiding team this summer.
AJ (Amy) Carrick
Another Otago Polytech graduate, Amy was born in Dunedin where she teaches sailing at her local Vauxhall Yacht Club. In 2011, she helped friends sail a yacht along the Australian Queensland coast from the Whitsundays to Cairns. Working in outdoor equipment retail paid the bills until she found the “perfect job” with our guiding team.
Tim came from the Kapiti Coast in 2004 as a trainee teacher at Motueka Primary School, also working as a Kayak Guide in Abel Tasman National Park. He combines relief teaching at Parklands School in Motueka with guiding in the Abel Tasman each summer. This winter, kayaking became fulltime when he joined our team to show our visitors how the cooler months provide some of the best kayaking experiences on the coast. Tim travels to Cambodia every year to assist the Heart Work for Kids charity that assists orphaned and abandoned children.
A "real local" Alan was born and bred in Motueka. So what does a Boat Skipper who's been working on the Wilson's boats for 16 years in the Abel Tasman National Park do on his days off? He takes his family on his own boat into the National Park, or goes on fishing trips to D'Urville Island.
Qualified Inshore Launch Master, Murray returned to his birthplace, Nelson, with two bonuses from his OE in Europe, a grasp of the German language and a German-born wife. Having paradise as an office, has kept Murray working in the Abel Tasman for 8 years.
Hailing from York in England, a holiday in New Zealand in 2002 was enough to entice Simon over here to live in 2005. In England, he was a loch keeper on the Thames River, beside the Tower Bridge, London. After 4 years working in retail in Auckland, a holiday to Nelson initiated a move to Motueka in 2009. He joined our Reservations Team, then our Launch Hosts and has gained his Inshore Launch Masters ticket in 2010 so now skippers our Vigour Water Taxi when he is not hosting guests on our Vista Cruise.
Born and bred in Motueka, Darrin's ancestors arrived with the Wilson family's ancestors on the first British settlement fleet to Nelson in 1841. He' s been a Skipper on the Abel Tasman coast for 7 years. As a Firearms Vetting Officer he has worked for the NZ Police and is a self-employed security contractor. No wonder we feel secure when he's skippering our water taxis.
German born Kerstin’s family emigrated to the Nelson region when she was 7 years old. She was educated locally in Nelson and Ngati Moti, then travelled extensively in Europe and USA, gaining Super Yacht crew qualifications in Florida in 2010. Returning home frequently, she has been looking for an excuse to settle here permanently. Working at our Torrent Bay Lodge last year, this year she returns as a Vista Cruise host.
Living in Nelson since he was 3 years old, Chris has found a way to maintain his lifestyle in a stunning environment. He gained a diploma in Adventure Tourism at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology then travelled to Lord Howe Island to embark on a Dive Master internship. After a summer working on a Super Yacht travelling from Tahiti to Mexico, he returns home to continue his boat hosting skills and complete his Dive Master qualification.
A graduate in Applied Environmental Science from University College, Dublin, Don grew up in Derrynane, a small village in Southern Ireland. He worked for 2 years in National Parks and for environmental protection agencies before heading to Australia in 2009 for a working holiday. Landing a job as crew for a yacht delivery, he returned to Ireland via the South Pacific, Caribbean and Atlantic route. Having missed New Zealand on his OE, he was determined to return. Crewing aboard our Vista Cruise was the ideal opportunity.
Hemi's North Auckland Nga Puhi ancestors were amongst the first Maori to land in New Zealand and had some successful encounters with the warring Ngati Toa chief, Te Rauparaha in the 1830s. Hemi became a South Islander with an apprenticeship in Christchurch. He toured Samoa with the Canterbury Maoris rugby team, and his team won the Prince of Wales Cup in the 1980's. Recent ill health has temporarily forced Hemi out of the driver's seat after 6 seasons with us. He continues to assist with essential back-up for our temporary driver.
Son of company founders, John and Lynnette Wilson, Craig helped his father build the Lodges he now manages. After guiding in the National Park, he trained with renowned chef, Ruth Pretty, in Wellington before heading for Europe. He ran his own Theatre Restaurant in Soho, London, for 4 years, then spent 3 years on the road as 'chef to the stars' including Pavarotti and Paul McCartney. He also operated Cederman House in Riwaka as a restaurant before taking on Food and Beverage Management as well as being Chef at the family's Lodges. Read Craig's Chef profile published in Hospitality Magazine: http://www.abeltasman.co.nz/assets/Uploads/CraigWilson-Bio-HospitalityMagazine-2008.pdf
Blair was born in Dunedin where he worked as a heavy machinery operator. He came to Motueka in 2007 to introduce his son, Parana, to the place of his ancestors. (Parana was the paramount chief of iwi living along the coast from Watering Cove to Puketawai, near Motueka). As a 60th generation New Zealander, Blair's ancestors include all 7 iwi at the top of the South Island. Trained as a Kayak Guide, he has been working with us in the National Park since 2008.
After a holiday in New Zealand in 2004, Claire has now found refuge here from a busy corporate life in England, working as a production manager for the BBC. When she met her partner, Ed, in London, they both decided to take up the job of hosting at our Torrent Bay Lodge. During their days off, they will be displaying their British croquet skills at the local Riwaka club.
As a landscape architect, designing settings for large commercial buildings, Ed was keen to escape the corporate life in England to travel with Claire to New Zealand. He draws on his experiences as host in a ski chalet in the French Alps to welcome our guests to Torrent Bay Lodge.
Moving from the North to the South Island with his parents when he was 8 years old, Robbie was brought up on a Boysenberry farm in the Brooklyn Valley, inland from Motueka. With a diploma in Hospitality Management from Christchurch Polytechnic, he travelled in USA and Europe, settling in Italy where he taught English for 8 years. His father and sister have hosted at our Lodges so Robbie returned from overseas in 2010 to follow in their footsteps. After a year’s break in Italy, he’s back to his welcoming role at Meadowbank Homestead – Awaroa.
Brought up in Nelson, John has a degree in Japanese language from Canterbury University (Christchurch). He lived in Japan for 3 years, teaching English and working as an abseil painter, painting high-rise buildings. In the early 2000s he worked for us for 5 seasons as both Lodge and Boat Host before traveling to the UK and Europe for more adventures, including cycle touring in France. The lure of the Abel Tasman was too much so John returns to host at Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa this year. He will be helping to build the new Tasman Great Taste Cycle Trail in his spare time.
As eldest son of company founders, John and Lynette Wilson, Darryl represents the 7th generation of his pioneering family's association with the Nelson region. Starting as a Guide in the National Park, Darryl completed his Marine Engineering apprenticeship in Nelson and helped his father build the family's Lodges on the Abel Tasman coast. He now concentrates on his role as CEO and Marketing Manager for the family business.
A graduate from Lincoln University, Sandra has a B. Com Tourism degree, majoring in Marketing & Management. Growing up in Hanmer Springs, with years of working in the local cafes, led to her leasing a cafe when she moved North to Golden Bay after finishing her degree. She ran the cafe in conjunction with running a sharemilking partnership. Setting up and operating the new Golden Bay Information Centre for Latitude Nelson followed before her passion for travel saw her return to live in Switzerland, Germany & Holland. A love of the region and tourism industry drew her back to take up the position as manager of the Motueka i-SITE and run the Abel Tasman Booking Desk, before we lured her away from the i-SITE in 2004.
Wendy worked for us as a Guide and Boat Crew, back in the days before John Wilson retired as our ship's captain. After many years of travelling in New Zealand and overseas, she settled for a time in Taupo. Keen to share the outdoor opportunities offered by her home territory, she returned to Nelson with her young son in 2010. She helps keep the region informed about our range of services in the National Park.
As our Chief Financial Officer, Leeson brings a world of experience to our Motueka Office. Although he was born in Palmerston North, he is an international citizen with a B.Com and MA gained over 10 years in Australia followed by 10 years in London and Italy. He now calls Ngati Moti (Motueka Valley) home and when he's not looking after our finances, he calls himself a "No.8 Wire Specialist".
Born in England and brought up in Australia, Lucy feels well qualified to be a Kiwi. Between working as a marine biologist and scientific editor in Australia, 9 years teaching skiing in Queenstown, France and Canada, and 6 years as Press Officer for the Queenstown ski areas, she has fitted in 15 seasons as a Track Guide on the Hollyford, Milford and Abel Tasman tracks (not all at the same time!). As Media Co-ordinator and Track Guide for Wilsons Abel Tasman, watch out for her best-seller, yet to be published.
Our new Reservations Team Leader is a true South Islander, born and raised in Milton (South Otago). Her OE took her to outback Australia, working on a cattle and camel station at Kings Creek. Following a few months in Europe, she returned to New Zealand to complete a Diploma in Journalism at Aoraki Polytech (Timaru) in 2007, leading to 2 years working for the Nelson Mail. The quest for adventure took her to China where she taught English for a year. Returning home, Elise spent 2 years with Motueka I-site before joining us.
Working in Reservations for All Ways Pacific in Buckinghamshire, England, Emma was treated to a couple of industry familiarisations in New Zealand, including a trip with us into Abel Tasman National Park in 2007. During the trip, at Torrent Bay Lodge, Emma's English boyfriend, Iain, asked her to marry him. They liked the region so much, they returned to Motueka to live in November 2009 and Emma joined our Reservations Team. Emma and Iain welcomed their first baby, Phoebe, in 2011 so Emma is returning to work after her maternity leave.
Growing up in the Motueka Valley and attending Motueka High School, Lucy was reluctant to leave our idyllic climate, taking some time off from studying primary school teaching at Otago university to work for us last year. She has returned to her studies and works for us during university holidays.
Being born and educated locally, Sumaia’s interest in travel and different nationalities was sparked with a trip to Egypt with her mother when she was 16 year old. After finishing at Motueka High School, she began a university degree in Dunedin but the lure of travel found her working in a summer camp in upstate New York in 2010, returning to the southern summer to work as a horse trekking guide in Glenorchy, near Queenstown. After more travelling in Europe and Asia, she joins our Reservations Team, keen to make sure our visitors enjoy travelling as much as she does.
Another graduate from Motueka High School, Jessamy studied Adventure Tourism at our local outdoor education centre, Whenua Iti. After a season guiding on Fox Glacier she was keen to return home, so applied to work on our Reservations Team this year. By assisting our Guests find their ideal holiday, she hopes to find ideas for her own future adventures.
From Taumarunui (central North Island), Shona went travelling and stopped in 1989 for a summer working in the orchards of Motueka. She met her partner there and settled in the region, bringing up 2 children and studying towards a degree in Anatomy from Victoria University. After working in Marahau for 2 summer seasons, she joins our Motueka office team this year, keen to share her knowledge of the National Park.