Over the last 30 years or so we’ve learned a lot about sustainability and what this really means to our environment, community and cultural values.
One the most important things we learned is that environmental responsibility means much more than planting trees and recycling. Developing and co-operating on long-term sustainable tourism strategies has enabled us to achieve meaningful goals.
Such achievements were acknowledged in 2013 when we were awarded the first Qualmark Enviro Gold rating in Abel Tasman National Park.
We’re also proud pilot members of the Nelson–Tasman Sustainable Tourism Charter, a central government initiative enabling both business and environmental sustainability. This builds on many years of our commitment to continuous improvement.
Preserving Abel Tasman National Park
As direct descendants from Nelson’s first British settlers, we’ve witnessed the cultural shift from ‘breaking in’ the land for pasture to the establishment of a national park.
John and Lynette Wilson launched the first scheduled commercial boat service into the park in 1977. Soon, other companies sought to offer other commercial services without any formal plans around managing our places or the number of visitors.
Since then, as the longest-standing operator in the park we have played a key role in ensuring that the park is managed appropriately while balancing the needs of its visitors, its community and the local economy.
We work closely with the Department of Conservation to achieve this, ensuring that all our tours follow their strict guidelines.
We keep abreast of any issues within the park, and assist with pest control, replanting and other environmental restoration projects.
Wilsons Abel Tasman is a founding member of the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust, working in partnership with the Department of Conservation and other community members to restore the environment and help our birdlife flourish.
We also promote conservation through our tours and lodge stays, hosted by our passionate guides, lodge staff and boat crew.
We are leaders and strong advocates for national park management initiatives such as the gazetting in 2007 of the Abel Tasman Foreshore Scenic Reserve that limits boat landings to certain bays at certain times.
The introduction in 2008 of our modern catamaran, Abel Tasman Voyager, allowed us to revolutionise our travel timetable and alleviate pressure on park hotpots. This is a better way to serve the communities in and around the national park.
The Abel Tasman Voyager also uses less fuel, produces less wake and noise, while its excellent onboard facilities make longer boat cruises more popular, further reducing the impact on the coastal environment.
Our scheduled boat services are optimised for luggage transfers and lodge supply deliveries so we don’t have to make special trips.
Our two beachfront lodges – Meadowbank Homestead at Awaroa and Torrent Bay Lodge – are designed and operated to minimise the impacts on both the natural and social environment of the park:
- built from sustainable and recycled wood sources, using local designers
- power generation is via solar systems with diesel power generation as backup only
- intelligent plumbing features include water-saving systems, as well as bioactive, self-contained sewerage and wastewater processing
- all rubbish is taken out of the park to community recycling and refuse stations
- organic and biodegradable cleaning systems are used
- we source as much food as possible from local, organic and environmentally responsible suppliers
- those suppliers use our own re-usable containers instead of disposable packaging
- plastic use is kept to a minimum across the board; examples include using waxed paper instead of cling wrap in picnic lunches, and encouraging guests to refill re-usable water bottles.
Community & cultural heritage
To ensure our social connections with the community and culture remain strong, we co-operate on various initiatives that increase our contribution while reducing any negative effects. These include:
- buying local products and services wherever possible to support business and encourage co-operation
- employ locals and foster their career development through training courses, tourism cadetships, and involvement with local education providers through sponsorships and consulting
- founding membership of Nelson–Tasman Sustainable Tourism Charter set up by the New Zealand Ministry of Tourism and Ministry for the Environment
- membership of the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust (currently working feasibility study for a cycle track in Abel Tasman National Park)
- Board member, Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce
- active member of the Awaroa Ratepayers Association and Torrent Bay local committees
- offering year-round special deals so locals can come and enjoy the park
- sponsorships and discounts for schools, charities and sporting clubs
- building Motueka’s first visitor information centre
- preserving the history of the early Awaroa settlement through Meadowbank Homestead and gardens, and the publication of Awaroa Legacy, written by Lynette Wilson
- sponsorship of Nelson Provincial Museum exhibits
It’s vital to our business that we use all our resources as thoughtfully as possible so we can share the national park without comprising visitors’ enjoyment, our values and our environment. – Darryl Wilson