About Us

Travelling into the heart of the Abel Tasman on a water taxi is a quintessentially Kiwi experience. The Abel Tasman contains six main Coastal Access Points at which water taxis can drop off and pick up passengers.

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About the Abel Tasman National Park

The Abel Tasman is New Zealand’s most iconic national park. The Abel Tasman’s popularity with New Zealanders and visitors from overseas is due to its unique combination of lush native forest, golden-sand beaches and crystal clear waters.

One of the greatest appeals of the Abel Tasman is that it is safe, easy to navigate and does not require any previous wilderness experience. For many people the Abel Tasman is a first taste of how soulful and invigorating it is to spend time in the great Kiwi outdoors.

The Abel Tasman coastline contains many sections that are sheltered from most sea currents and coastal winds, making it absolutely perfect for first-time paddlers.  The Abel Tasman Coastal Track is one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks.  With campsites and huts dotted along its 60 km (37 mi) length, the Park can be experienced as a multi-day, one-day or half-day adventure.

The National Park was founded in 1942.  It is New Zealand’s smallest, but also its most iconic national park.  With a seemingly endless array of picture perfect panoramic vistas, the Abel Tasman is equally popular for Kiwis as it is for overseas visitors.

The Abel Tasman is a landscape full of stories.  Maori lived in the area up to 700 years ago, and it was not visited by European explorers until 1642 when Dutch Explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman found himself lost in the area whilst trying to find what we now call Australia.  The story of Tasman’s first encounter with the local Maori is a textbook case of cultural misunderstanding that resulted in the death of four of his crew members.

On the 29th of March 1770 Englishman Captain Cook sailed past the area without landing, naming it Blind Bay. Then on the 14th of January 1827 Frenchman Jules Dumont D’Urville rounded, and named, Separation Point on his vessel Astrolabe. He sailed south and anchored in the sheltered waters of what we now call the Astrolabe Roadstead. The local Maori were amicable towards D’Urville and his crew so they stayed in huts on the beach and explored the area. He named many of the landmarks in the area: Watering Cove where they gathered fresh water, Observation Beach where they observed the transit of Venus across the sun, Adele Island after his wife, plus Coquille Bay, Cyathea Cove and Fisherman Island to name a few.

Even before the national park was established in 1942 the area had been the outdoor playground of local families.  Today, private holiday houses are still dotted along the coastline, many of which have been handed down from one generation to the next.

After a determined and ongoing conservation effort by a couple of key organisations over the past 10 or so years the Park’s native bush and birdlife has never been in better shape than before human settlement in the area.

Environmental
Sustainanility

We are deeply committed to providing our customers with a quality experience. At the same time, we do everything possible to ensure our business operations have the minimum impact on the environment and our community. In fact, our aim is to enhance and influence positive changes in our local community and this wonderful natural environment that we call home. The long-term sustainability of our business is directly connected to the sustainability of our community and environment. Our key sustainability initiatives are:

  1. We are constantly striving to minimise fuel consumption. We continue to invest heavily in the most fuel-efficient boat motors and other fuel-saving technologies. All of our boats have been fitted with electronic fuel gauges to help each boat skipper ensure they are running their boats as efficiently as possible at all times. In 2017 our parent company invested in the establishment of a full workshop at our Marahau base to service and maintain our boats. This has lead to massive improvements to the lifespan and efficiency of our equipment.
  2. We are always trying to reduce waste by reusing and recycling. We also offer our customers recycling facilities and encourage our customers to reuse containers and bottles whenever possible.
  3. We do everything we can to minimise our water usage by turning off taps when we are not directly using water and by using water saving technologies. We also have a rainwater harvesting system at our main water taxi storage sheds.
  4. We support various charitable organisations in their efforts to protect and restore our local environment. For example, we donate 10c from each passenger fare to the Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust.
  5. As well as paying a share of each passenger fare to the Department of Conservation as part of our concessions to operate in the Abel Tasman National Park, we also transport DOC staff free of charge. We also provide various forms of sponsorship and donations to local sports clubs, schools and other community groups throughout each year.
  6. We will activity encourage our customers to act responsibly when they are using the National Park.

There is additional information on conserving the Abel Tasman here and a bunch of stuff about the flora and fauna in the Park here.

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About Us

Abel Tasman AquaTaxi

Locally owned

Abel Tasman AquaTaxi is a locally owned family business servicing New Zealand’s most popular national park.  Back in 1990 AquaTaxi pioneered the use of smaller, faster water taxis in the Abel Tasman National Park.

AquaTaxi was founded by Kelvin and Jane Goodman. The operation started out by offering charter services but quickly realised there was a gap in the market for water transport that provided customers with the opportunity to access sections of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track for one-day and overnight trips.  In 2000 AquaTaxi opened the first all-weather, purpose-built water taxi base in Marahau.  This base was built to match the unique aesthetic of the local Marahau village. The outdoor area is similar to a wharf, the external cladding is predominately natural wood and inside, the service counter is the same shape as a ship’s hull. The counter was built by a local sculptor.

In March 2004 AquaTaxi was purchased by Ngai Tahu Tourism.  The business returned to private ownership in May 2012, when it was purchased by the Alborn family of Marahau.  The Alborn family had owned and operated Marahau Water Taxis since 1997 as well as various other businesses servicing the Abel Tasman National Park.

Our Boats

AquaTaxi has been using Osprey boats since 1996. Our first Osprey water taxi, “Matakana” was the first built by what was then a small Nelson engineering firm.  Many years and over twenty boats later we continue to improve each vessel’s comfort, safety and overall performance.

The Abel Tasman is a unique operating environment with New Zealand’s largest tidal range at over five metres and with its many tidal lagoons.  This means the difference in water levels between high and low tides is dramatic with the water receding a long way out during low tides.  Our smaller boats can be towed by tractor down to the low tide waterline where they can be launched directly from their trailers. This is not possible for the large, ferry-type vessels commonly found in other parts of New Zealand and around the world.

Our boats can operate in water depths as shallow as 400mm.  They are also maneuverable so can access those secret, out-of-the-way spots along the coastline such as Shag Harbour and Falls River on many tide conditions.  Our water taxis also use super-quiet four stroke outboards engines, the use of which allows passengers to hear the natural sounds of the Park.

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The Region

Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the Nelson Tasman District is bordered by Tasman and Golden Bays and inland by lush, forested mountain ranges.

You would expect Kiwis to know their own country better than anybody else.  It speaks volumes therefore, that the Nelson Tasman District is where New Zealanders come for their own holidays.  With among the most sunshine hours of any region in New Zealand, and three national parks, Nelson Tasman has always been something of a mecca for outdoor adventure seekers.

Marahau, also known as the Abel Tasman Village, is the doorway to the Abel Tasman National Park.  Located right at the southern entrance to the Park, Marahau is a completely genuine rural village with a year-round community of farmers, artisans and tourism operators.

Nelson is the region’s largest city and its transport hub with New Zealand’s sixth busiest airport.  Nelson is a thriving provincial centre with a high concentration of artists and other creative types, and a well established cafe culture.

The Tasman District features some of the most fertile soil in New Zealand so has a long history of supplying the country, and beyond, with outstanding fruit, produce and wine. The villages and towns located along the coast and among the horticultural areas all have their unique charms and attractions.

Mapua is a quaint seaside village with a vibrant wharf area lined with cafes and gift shops.  Motueka is a vibrant and flourishing rural hub with more than its fair share of parks, green spaces and long stretches of wonderfully undeveloped waterfront.

Motueka is the closest ‘major’ centre to the Park. From Motueka it’s an easy 20 minute drive through Riwaka and over the Marahau hill.  Motueka, or simply Mot to locals, is well serviced with shops, supermarkets and just about anything you will need during your visit.  Motueka also has a wide variety of accommodation options so is a good base from which to do day trips into the Park.

Kaiteriteri is one of New Zealand’s most iconic golden-sand beaches, and although it has been heavily developed over the past ten years, is still consistently featured on lists of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Separated from the rest of the world by a reasonably significant hill, Golden Bay is one of the most easy-going, relaxing and special places in New Zealand.  Its isolation from the rest of the country is what makes it so special.  Golden Bay features some of the most remote and stunning beaches that we hope will never be spoiled by human intervention.