Golden Future Conservation Tours has now been rebranded as Abel Tasman Eco Tours, we are excited to show you the best of our amazing product and more! With a new tour for 2016 and new staff, we hope to uncover more of the park’s secrets for you.
Abel Tasman Eco Tours was founded in April 2013 as Golden Future Conservation Tours. Starting on a shoestring with the help of Abel Tasman AquaTaxi, we found a tourism niche delivering high quality ecology tours in the national park.
In 2014, Golden Future became independent with the help of Everton Bed and Breakfast Kaiteriteri, who helped us out by signing over their charter concession in a very generous deal that would kickstart our future as a genuine eco-operator in the Abel Tasman. We moved our vessel to a new location in Marahau, teaming up with Kahu Kayaks and Abel Tasman Stables.
Using our our formal education and vast local knowledge as a foundation, we are committed to enriching our knowledge at every turn. All of our tours have been researched and we have consulted with experts in botany, conservation, ornithology, marine biology and cultural history. We also pay this forward by offering all staff in the Abel Tasman the opportunity to come on a tour with us and learn about the ecology of this amazing place. We believe education is the key to change and we have written a referenced intepretation manual on ecology, conservation and history of the park that we provide to anyone interested free of charge. We are also involved in the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme, educating people on marine protection.
Aside from tourism, we are also part of the park’s conservation story, assisting in scientific surveys, pest control, research and education as well as our own initiatives. We are committed to supporting the community and conservation groups with raffle prizes, cash donations and providing our resources, time and expertise for the good of the community and environment. Please see our Environmental Policy for a list of our achievements to date.
We love the park and the wildlife that make this such a vibrant place. It is therefore in our interests to protect and preserve it. We are fiercely protective of the marine reserve and keep our eyes on any suspicious behaviour. We discourage the taking of any shells or biological matter from nature on our tours. We have developed our own mammal watching protocols and have become the only DoC SMART operator in the park, responsibly viewing marine mammals.
Our vessel Zeehaen is a rejuvenated water taxi; given a new lease of life by Eco Tours. She is a 7.5m Osprey alloy pontoon boat. Locally made, her sealed pontoons provide a comfortable ride and she is extremely seaworthy and built to withstand the local sea conditions. She is powered by a brand new four stroke 225hp Honda outboard, who’s economy, reliability and quietness make it the only commercial outboard choice in the Abel Tasman. Of course we would love to be the first in the park to pioneer electric and solar propulsion options and will endeavour to do so when the technology meets our requirements. We have just had her canopy and seats refitted for optimum comfort in all weather conditions.
Health and safety is one of our primary considerations, and we believe in delivering an impeccable safety culture to customers at all points on our tours. We pride ourselves on our safety record and strive to improve our standards by reviewing our systems twice yearly. We are audited by Maritime New Zealand and Outdoorsmark, to ensure that our safety systems are current and comply with all the relevant legislation. If you have encountered any hazards or discrepancies to this statement on our tours we encourage you to give us feedback so that we can rectify the situation for the future.
Stew Robertson is the founder of Golden Future. Originally from Scotland; he has lived and worked in the Abel Tasman area since 2002 and has transformed his passion for the area and the environment into a career. Marahau and the Abel Tasman National Park are the backdrop for his operation showcasing the magic of this incredible region. Stew has many years of commercial boating experience, holds a Diploma in Marine Studies from the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and a BSc (biological sciences) from the University of Waikato and is a certified scientific scuba diver. Keen to pursue a career in and give something back to his home in Tasman Bay, Stew set up Golden Future Conservation Tours. Merging his fields of expertise, Stew is now an environmental communicator, sharing the wonders of science and the beauty of the Abel Tasman with the public from his boat ‘Zeehaen’. Stew loves nothing more than sharing his passion and knowledge of this idyllic region. Book a tour with Abel Tasman Eco Tours and experience the slice of heaven that is the Abel Tasman National Park. Besides being a tour guide and educator, Stew is also the founder of Tasman Bay Guardians and the Abel Tasman Tree Collective. He also assists in co-ordinating community snorkelling events through the Experiencing Marine Reserves programme. See our Facebook page for the latest news and photos! . He assists in conservation projects such as relocating rare native birds, research and pest control programmes. He also consults with other companies on their ecological interpretation as well as conducting under-water scientific field work throughout New Zealand. He has also co-ordinated clean-up events both above and below the tide in the waters of the Abel Tasman.
Stew sits on the board of:
Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust
Tasman Bay Promotions Association
Wilderness Canoe Trust
Nelson Biodiversity Forum
Outside of work, Stew loves hanging out with his wife and kids, snorkelling and diving and getting in the water, fitness wherever possible, mountain biking, windsports, yoga, DJ’s at parties and generally loves having any sort of fun with his mates. Stew has made it onto the prospectus’s of both Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and University of Waikato.
We were very excited to welcome Fay MacKenzie to the crew in 2015, our first ever member of staff. You will meet Fay on ‘Promised Land’ and ‘Tasman Treasures tour’s. She is an amazing guide with vast outdoor experience. The park is her playground and she has also worked in the Wainui Valley as an outdoor education teacher at Motueka High School. We are very lucky to have a guide of this calibre, helping to take us to new heights in the eco-tourism world. Fay also works as a Department of Conservation ranger and Whitebait Connection co-ordinator, delivering freshwater education to school aged kids. Outside of work Fay loves getting into the outdoors with her family, mountain biking, is a soccer coaching advisor, RPM fitness instructor and a top jammer in the Sirens of Smash Roller Derby team. So don’t mess with this chicky.
Apart from being Stew’s long suffering wife, Helen is a force to be reckoned with. She expertly balances her duties within the company with full time study, family, sports and hobbies. Helen has recently completed a Health Science degree majoring in environmental monitoring. She is also a qualified naturopath and personal trainer. She balances the books, manages the finances and man’s the phone. It is probably Helen you will speak to if you give us a ring. Helen is also the secretary of Tasman Bay Guardians, looking after all the financial side of thisngs for the Guardians and Abel Tasman Tree Collective, she edits all of of our videos, does photography and is also the Whitebait Connection Regional Co-ordinator. Outside of work Helen is most happy when on holiday in some hot country with snorkelling and nice food, in the garden, running all over the place or doing pirouettes on her roller skates. She is also an amazing roller derby jammer, and is a star of the Nelson Sirens of Smash A Team. She also loves mountain biking.
Stu began working for Abel Tasman Eco Tours in the summer of 2018-19.
He is sometimes known as Hairy Stu to distinguish him from all the other Stus and Stews who’ve
worked in the park. He grew up beside the sea and has lived, travelled and worked on the ocean
ever since. Beginning in hospitality, Stu’s career developed towards sea-related tourism among
Pacific islands and coral reefs.
He first kayaked in the Abel Tasman NP in 1990 then returned in 1995 to work as a kayak guide. Stu
has since worked many summers in the park, alternating with winters in North Queensland, Australia
and the Yasawa Islands in Fiji running multi-day expedition kayak trips.
Stu gained his skippers ticket in 2003 and drove water taxis in the park. He also worked on the Great
Barrier Reef skippering dive and snorkel vessels based on Heron Island. After living and working on
the Reef, he was inspired to learn more about the marine environment. While completing a Diploma
of Marine Studies at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Stu reconnected with Stew, who he had first met
when working in the Abel Tasman.
Stu enjoys sharing his favourite “office” with you, recounting stories from the past and exploring
current issues that are shaping the future of Abel Tasman National Park. He is passionate about the
park, the marine environment and its wise management. His off-season winter work is also based on
When not working, Stu can be found on a bike, in a kayak or in the kitchen turning out delicious