Our family history in the Nelson region spans eight generations – from our ancestors' arrival by ship to the sustainable tourism business we're proud to run today. 

1841   The Newth and Snow families arrive in Nelson with the first fleet of European settlers from England.
1844   Lynette Wilson's great-grandparents Adele and William Hadfield build a grand home on the 'finest site in the bay' at their farm, Meadowbank at Awaroa (the property now lies within the boundary of Abel Tasman National Park).
1858   George Snow marries Martha Newth. Adele is their eldest surviving child.
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 was returned to the national estate in 2006).
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.
Mid 1960s   John Wilson (Lynette's husband) builds a launch, Matangi, at their home in Riwaka for family holidays in Abel Tasman National Park.
1968   Lynette purchases a family holiday cottage at Torrent Bay, within the national park.
1977   After the only boat available to take visitors to the national park is wrecked in a storm, the Wilson family starts a commercial boat service along the coast using the Matangi that carries 18 passengers. The operation is known as Abel Tasman National Park Enterprises.
1978–82   Lynette serves refreshments and artwork from a tent pitched in the garden of the Torrent Bay cottage. Her children start to show visitors around the area.
1982   The family is granted a concession to host guided walks in the national park. The cottage is rebuilt to enable walkers to stay overnight, and the historic launch Ponui is bought and restored to join the fleet.
1984   A third launch, Waingaro, is bought and a coach service is introduced to carry visitors from Nelson to Kaiteriteri.
1988   Purpose-built in Nelson, the 145-seat Abel Tasman Explorer is launched to provide a more comfortable way to see the national park.
1994   After Lynette inherits land from her great-grandparents, the family rebuilds the ancestral home at Awaroa as Meadowbank Homestead which becomes an integral part of overnight trips.
1995   We introduce guided sea kayaking trips.
1999   The family history is published by Lynette in a hard cover book, Awaroa Legacy.
2000   We win the NZ Tourism Award for Best Outdoor Activity.
2001   The Torrent Bay property undergoes its third rebuild and refurbishment to become a lodge with 13 double rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
2003   We win the Tasman District Council Heritage Award.
2004   Our 'Sea Fern' motif is designed – in NZ's unofficial national colours of black and white – to represent the family's connection to the land and the sea. 
2005–7   Changing our name to Wilsons Abel Tasman Experiences Ltd, we form a business alliance with sea kayak companies owned by the local Māori iwi (tribe), Wakatu, to assist them with their entry into the tourism industry. We set up a cadet training scheme to help members of the iwi present their stories.
2006   A large part of the Hadfield estate – the largest single piece of privately owned land within the nation park boundaries – is bought by the Heritage Fund and added to the national park.


  • Winners Qualmark Mark of Quality at NZ Tourism Awards
  • Winners Business of the Year and Tourism Excellence at Nelson Business Awards.


  • Trading name changed to Wilsons Abel Tasman National Park Ltd to make the family name dominant in the branding and help distinguish our company from other operators in the region.
  • Finalists in New Zealand Tourism Awards


  • John Wilson is awarded the Queen's Service Medal for his contribution to the development of the national park.
  • Guest accommodation is upgraded, two holiday cottages built at Meadowbank Homestead
  • Solar power installed at both properties.
  • We're a finalist for the Inbound Tourism Operators Council Operator of the Year Award.
2009   Our state-of-the-art catamaran, Abel Tasman Voyager, is designed and built in New Zealand to operate Vista Cruise services in the national park.


  • The hull of the Abel Tasman Voyager is extended for even better fuel efficiency and reduced wake at speed.
  • We're judged best Visitor Attraction and Experience (small and medium) at the 2010 NZ Tourism Awards, Innovating for Success.
2011–12   New website and purpose-built booking software with upgraded computer servers designed to enable online booking. 


  • We're the first company operating in Abel Tasman National Park to be awarded the Qualmark Enviro Gold standard. 
  • Online, real-time booking is introduced.
2014   New Hyundai L500 marine engines installed in the Abel Tasman Voyager to increase comfort, reliability and fuel efficiency.


  • Torrent Bay Lodge undergoes another upgrade
  • Motueka tour base consolidates and moves to new premises to improve staff and visitor experience.


  • Vista II cruising catamaran joins the Vista Cruise fleet.
  • We win the Nelson Tasman Chamber of Commerce Large Business award.

2019  Finalists for the Qualmark 100% Pure New Zealand Experience Award.

2020-21  Covid pandemic travel restrictions allowed opportunities to revise our range of trips, improve your website experience, and upgrade hybrid energy systems at our lodges.


  • Upgrade photovoltaic systems and battery storage at lodges to reduce LPG and diesel fuel usage. Click through to a report showing 90%+ reduction in fuel usage compared to pre-hybrid installations.
  • Improved monitoring and reduction of waste water output at lodges.


  • Upgrade online booking integration.
  • Vista II extended 2.5 metres and engines replaced for 20% improved fuel efficiency and passenger comfort.