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 links below to meet our team of Guides, Drivers, Launch Hosts, Lodge Hosts and Admin. Read the stories that brought each one of them to work with us.
A 'real' local, our Operations Manager's great-great grandfather arrived in Nelson in 1842. Shay has been working with us since 2000, starting as a Kayak Guide, and diversifying with Skipper's qualifications in 2009. His list of credentials includes Outdoor Recreation and Management, commercial Skipper and qualified Sea Kayak Instructor. Despite his responsibilities, he hasn't lost his sense of fun. When he's called in to be a Kayak Guide, he still gets rave reviews.
As one of New Zealand's most experienced guides, John can track his association with Abel Tasman National Park back to his grandfather who settled here in the late 1890's. The park is literally his back yard as 700 metres of the Coastal Track passes through his family's land. As a mountain guide on Mt Cook/Aoraki, in 1970 he was in the first expedition to climb the mountain's Caroline Face. Read the story here.
Always popular with visitors, one of John's walkers wrote a poem for him. Download the Glasgow Muse here.
Born in Taranaki, Michelle has a degree from Massey University (Palmerston North) leading to 3 years of Primary School teaching. Then, she took off to teach snowboarding in USA, Canada and Australia. Introduced to kayaking in Canada, she decided to come home for a post graduate diploma in Sustainability and Outdoor Education at CPIT (Christchurch). Recommendation from her tutor led her to join our guiding team for the 2014-15 summer. After adventures in Samoa and Canada, she's back for a third season with us as Guide and Operations Supervisor.
As Sam's ancestors arrived in Nelson in 1865, he brings a wealth of local knowledge and enthusiasm to his job. Now an Operations Supervisor, he first joined us in 2008 fresh from studying Outdoor Recreation and Advanced Leadership & Guiding at Tai Poutini Polytechnic (South Island West Coast). A qualified Ski Patroller, Sam spends his winters on the ski fields.
Born in the North Island, Adam first visited the Abel Tasman as a boy scout when he was 11 years old. He moved to Nelson with his parents 2 years later. Starting work as a Panel Beater, the lure of the outdoors led to qualifications as a Glacier, Rafting and Sea Kayak Guide at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and Whenua Iti Outdoors. Adam has been working as a Guide with us since 2005, up-skilling with a Local Launch Operator qualification in 2012. These days, he's working as a Skipper and part-time Guide.
Despite a Greek name and English accent, Marios is a real Kiwi with two daughters born here. He's worked as a Guide in the North and South Islands since 1999, and written 18 walking and historical guides to regions in New Zealand, for Reed Publishing. With a degree in Geography from Sheffield University, Marios started his career in tourism as a host at chalets in the French Alps where he met his New Zealand-born wife at a ski resort in Vaujany. Speaking many languages, he works as a freelance Guide with us and other tour operators in New Zealand.
Amy (AJ) Carrick
Another Otago Polytech graduate, Amy was born in Dunedin where she taught sailing at her local Vauxhall Yacht Club. After helping friends sail a yacht from the Whitsundays to Cairns (Australia) she found the “perfect job” with our guiding team in 2012. During our low season, she has instructed part time for Otago Polytech, assisted on school camps and worked in reservations for Glacier Guides at Franz Josef.
Back in 1862, Garrick's ancestors sailed into Nelson. With this adventuring heritage, he headed to London in 1992. Working as a motorcycle courier he emerged with a "brilliant plan": to ride his motorcycle to Egypt. Mission completed, he became a scuba diving guide in the Red Sea. In 1997 he traveled to Australia before returning to NZ to complete a couple of years at art school before pursuing a career in stone sculpture. Then came outdoor tourism awards in adventure tourism, customer service and risk management from Whenua Iti Outdoors. Since 2006, he has kept himself occupied guiding for us as well as studying indigenous survival skills, sculpting and raising a family.
Ian (Squid) Jennings
New Zealand was on the top of Ian and his wife’s list when they decided to explore the world before settling down in England. Starting in 2012 on the North Island with a season as kayak guides on Lake Taupo, they came to Motueka for the 2013/14 summer, lured by the reputation of Abel Tasman National Park and a job offer from us. Ian enjoys his time here so much, he keeps extending his visa to continue working for us, despite his fear that squid is the favourite food for seals.
Amy married her high school sweetheart (our Guide Ian), in 2009 and has travelled with him around the world following her passion for kayaking. After perfecting her guiding skills in the Abel Tasman, she joined us a full time Guide in 2015.
Andy (Whitey) White
Ambassador for his graduating year at the Otago Sports Institute in 2005, Whitey started as a kayak guide with us, fresh out of college. He continues to be an ambassador for the classic New Zealand adventurer life style, working as a kayak guide in Canada (Quadra Island, near Vancouver Island), Milford Sound and Norway (Naeroyfjorden). He’s also been a dog handler, running dog sledding trips in Tromso (Norway). In England, he worked for the YMCA, taking kids on outdoor experiences. His favourite adventure is a 3-week kayaking trip through Fiordland National Park (New Zealand). This is Whitey’s 12th season as an international kayak guide and his 7th season with us.
From Otaki on the Kapiti Coast (North Island) Tim first came to the Abel Tasman on a school camp during his last year at school. This led to a certificate in Adventure Tourism from NMIT in Nelson. His adventures around New Zealand include guiding sea kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds, Kapati Island, and with us in the Abel Tasman from 2005. Taking time off from his dream job, he gained a teaching degree from Massey University, finishing in 2004. He tried full time primary school teaching at Motueka’s Parklands school but the lure of the outdoors brought him back to full-time guiding with is in 2012. This is his 11th year as a Guide in the Park.
With a degree in Outdoor Education from Otago Polytech (2011), Paddy started with two seasons kayaking guiding in Kaikoura then set off to see the world. He has taught cultural and adventure sports for international schools in Asia, UK and Switzerland. For recreation, he challenges himself with long distance runs and bicycle tours. This year he aimed to cycle from London to China but only got as far as Istanbul, planning to complete the trip next year after his third season guiding with our kayaking team.
Hailing from Tapanui in West Otago, Nathan has a Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management from Otago Polythech. He decided to head north for our warmth and sunshine. This is his third season with us. During our quiet season he heads for the northern hemisphere summers, spending a season in the US as an outdoor instructor for a summer camp in Maine, and a season as kayak guide in Norway.
With a Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management from Otago Polytechnic (Dunedin) Shannon joined us a kayak guide in 2012. We missed her when she took a year off from kayaking to go exploring in 2014/15. After helping build the Hooker Valley Track at Mount Cook Aoraki she spent a summer working as a bike mechanic in Wanaka, following her passion for mountain biking .For the 2015 northern summer, she worked as a Kayak Guide in Norway.We welcomed her back to Abel Tasman National Park in 2015.
German born Kerstin’s family emigrated to the Nelson region when she was 7 years old. After graduating from school in Nelson, she travelled extensively in Europe and USA, gaining Super Yacht crew qualifications in Florida in 2010. For the 2011/12 summer she was a Lodge Host at Torrent Bay Lodge, returning to work as a Boat Host for the following summer. With more overseas adventures, she spent 2 years in Norway, working in guest services for a hostel and campground, then dog sled guiding. Always keen to come home, she joined us in 2015 as a Walk Guide.
A graduate in Engineering from University of Canterbury (Christchurch), after 5 years of office work Scott decided to find a way to turn his love of adventure into a job. Graduating with a Diploma in Adventure Tourism from NMIT (Nelson) in 2015, he joined our guiding team. For the 2016 summer he was kayaking guiding and coasteering in Cornwell, England.
Born in Nelson and involved in the tourism industry since she was 13 years old, working at Kaiteriteri, Pippy is passionate about the environment. Guiding with us through the 2013-14 seasons, she then took time to complete her B.Sc. in Botany and Ecology at Otago University in 2015. She added a Certificate in Horticulture to her degree and will share her love of the environment with visitors while she looks at her career possibilities.
After his Australian OE working in outdoor education in northern Victoria, Jeremy returned to his hometown of Dunedin to study for his Diploma in Outdoor Leadership and Management at Otago Polythech. Many of his classmates came to work for us, so he’s followed them to the sunny north to Guide with us this season.
A refugee from corporate life, Mi-chi decided life in an office in Taiwan was not for her after three years of editing high school text books. With fond memories of a kayak holiday in Abel Tasman National Park, she came to NMIT to study Adventure Tourism. Highly recommended by her tutors, she joins us this year as a kayak guide.
Born in London, Jack's family emigrated to Dunedin when he as a child. Gaining his certificate in Outdoor Leadership and Management at Otago Polythec, many of his classmates were working with us, so he decided to join us this year.
Brought up by a keen boating family in Motueka, what does a Boat Skipper do on his days off when he's been working on our boats for 19 years in the Abel Tasman National Park? He takes his own boat into the National Park and beyond.
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 13 years.
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 boats.
As a Murchison local, Sally grew up with kayaking on the Buller river. After leaving school, she spent 4 years on a combi van odyssey around Western Australia, returning home to complete her Marine Cadetship at NMIT (Nelson). Another 4 years in Australia, working at resorts in Byron Bay, then back home to gain maritime experience in New Zealand waters, Sally has been crewing with us since 2013. During the 2014 season she fulfilled a life ambition to sail across the Pacific, crewing on a yacht to Fiji, and now has her Skipper's ticket. Read her story here: High Life on High Seas for Young Skippers.
Hooked on sea and sun, Holly grew up in the Rai Valley (Marlborough). She came to Nelson to gain her Trainee Ranger Certification at NMIT where work experience was in Abel Tasman National Park. For the 2015/16 summer season she worked for Department of Conservation in Fiordland National Park as the Milford Road Ranger. This summer, she's keen to help our guests enjoy the delights of her home territory.
Graduating from Nelson College, it was a natural progression for Zach to get his Superyacht Crew Training Certificate at NMIT. A keen water skier and paddle boarder, he’s loving his first season crewing with us in Abel Tasman National Park.
With family ties to Motueka going back four generations, Tui went to school in Auckland and then travelled the world. She returned to Auckland in 2013, working as a nanny, then moved to Marlborough in 2016. She is getting closer to Motueka, settling in Nelson this year and crewing with us in Abel Tasman National Park.
Originally from Gisborne, Karl headed to the South Island for a holiday in Picton and stayed for over 4 years, using it as a base for further travels. He came to Nelson in 2013 to gain his Class 2 driver’s licence and drove trucks until he achieved his goal to drive passenger vehicles. With seven years experience in hospitality and tourism on his travels he looks forward to interacting with passengers and showing them his favourite parts of New Zealand.
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. In London, he helped set up the Bar/Café Freedom, still operating on Wardour St in Soho. After 4 years at Freedom Craig spent 3 years on the road as 'chef to the stars' including Pavarotti and Paul McCartney. He also operated a restaurant at Cederman House in Riwaka 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
Emigrating to New Zealand with his parents when he was nine years old, Sash was born in Tomsk (Russia) and grew up as an Aucklander. Graduating from Auckland Universtiy of Technology with a degree in Management & Administration, and a certificate in cooking he worked as a Regional Retail Manager. In 2014, looking for a change, he decided to visit a friend in Motueka and apply for a job, cooking with Craig Wilson. He's been with us since then. This year, he'll be cooking up some delicious meals for you at Meadowbank Homestead - Awaroa.
Originally from Hamilton, gaining experience as a chef in the cafe scene of Wellington, Elton has embraced the outdoor spirit at the top of South Island, working as chef at Nelson's iconic Riverside Cafe in the Moutere valley. Now living in Golden Bay, he walks over the Awaroa saddle and across the estuary to get to Meadowbank and cook up a genuine welcome for his guests.
After growing up in Mangaweka (population 150) in the lower North Island, Hilary has been too busy to head for university after discovering Adventure Tourism, working for Gravity Canyon (near Taihape). She has covered 38 countries on her overseas adventures, including working on a Hotel Canal Boat and in Harrods food hall (UK). Back home, she ran a Backpacker Hostel on Stewart Island before joining our Lodge team in "one of the sunniest spots in NZ."
Matt grew up in Riwaka and has a science degree from Canterbury University. A love of teaching and travel has taken him around the world, returning home to work at our Lodges for a summer in 2013/14, and to a diploma in secondary teaching from Massey University. After teaching science at Waimea College, and further travels to South America and Amazon jungle, he returns to cook at our Lodges this summer.
Story to come
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. Read about the family in an article published in North & South Magazine, Messing About in Boats.
Our Sales and Admin manager studied for a degree in Tourism Marketing & Management at Lincoln University. 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 university. She ran the cafe in conjunction with running a share milking partnership. Setting up and operating the Golden Bay Information Centre for Nelson Tasman Tourism 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.
Leeson HislopAs 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.
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. Back to work full time in 2016, Emma is now our Reservations Team Leader.
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 joined our Motueka team in 2015, keen to share her knowledge of the National Park.
With an arts and teaching degree from Dunedin, Gill first came to Motueka to teach at Parklands School in 1987. Deciding teaching wasn’t for her, she worked at our Torrent Bay Lodge for a season in 1988. After raising two children with her husband Darrin (now one of our Skippers) and with 6 years experience at Kiwi Bank and NZ Post she joined our Reservations Team in 2013 to make use of her diploma in business administration from NMIT (Nelson).
In 1999, Aline travelled from France to New Zealand with her husband, planning to stay for a year. After four years working in hospitality in Auckland they returned to France to start a family. With their two son’s French heritage established, in 2014 they followed their goal to return to New Zealand when Aline’s husband was offered a job as head chef at a famous Nelson vineyard. Aline looks forward to sharing her passion for her adopted home as she joins our Reservations and Guiding teams.
With a Diploma in Tourism Management from NMIT Courtenay is back with us this year, after working with us in 2011