Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles was started in 2000 by Tim Jenkins. Tim asked Keith Knapp to build a boat for the business which led to Keith and his wife Heather becoming partners in the business. Tim left the business to pursue other interests and Keith and Heather have continued to develop Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles, achieving its current status as one of Nelson Tasman’s iconic visitor sector businesses.
During the past 20 years Keith has built 17 vessels for the business, along with many other pieces of equipment and innovations such as ramps to get passengers on and off our vessels with dry feet and propellers that tilt to one side of the vessel to allow the vessels to operate in very shallow water without disturbing the sea floor.
Keith’s creations over the years have certainly been impressive, such as our 150-seat passenger vessel “Crusader” and the similarly-sized vessel “Innovator”. As part of the celebration of each new vessel, which Keith and Heather liken to the birth of a new child, Keith’s wife, co-owner of the business, and keen photographer Heather takes a photo of every vessel when it’s launched at Port Motueka and makes its way to the Abel Tasman National Park for the first time.
Since 2000, the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttles business has grown to employ seven members of the Knapp family across three generations and a total of 45 staff during the summer peak season. Two of Keith and Heather’s children – Greg and Debbie – work in the business and Keith and Heather’s grandson Jackson is the third generation skipper in the family.
Giving Back to Our
Environment & Community
Alongside growing a successful business Keith and Heather have made an impressive contribution to our local community. This includes contributing more than half a million dollars (as at October 2020) to the community as ‘in kind’ or donations, including raising more than $100,000 for Rotary. When people ask Keith why he does it he answers “because we can”.
Keith with his wife Heather are the creators of the company. Keith has lived in the area all his life and has put a great deal of thought into how he can have the best possible lifestyle for himself, his family & friends, this company has been the result! To Keith it’s all about designing, building and operating boats & barges, walking barefoot on the beaches and enjoying the great fishing and diving the Abel Tasman National Park has to offer.
Co-owner, photographer, sales executive
Heather can be found throughout the National Park with her camera lens trained onto any one of the amazing views or local wildlife. She has a serious passion for the area which comes across in her photography. You could meet Heather anywhere, at the Kiosk, on the boats or on any one of the beaches. She is very busy lady!
Co-owner, sales executive
Debbie is always there to help you throughout your experience with us, she came from the world of banking to join her Mum and Dad running this genuine kiwi lifestyle company. You can meet her at the kiosk or on the phone when you first make contact. She’ll always make sure you get the best from the area and with a smile and a laugh!
Greg is responsible for much of the incredible electrical systems throughout the fleet, having spent a lot of time creating, designing and building the boats he’s got everything ‘wired’. He’s one of the main skippers on the team and you’ll find him at the wheel of any one of the vessels when you venture into the park.
“I have a background in hospitality and used to work on fishing charter boats in Mozambique. I just love being out on the water, I am happy at sea. I am also known for my incredible Bill Clinton impersonations…”
Mark has a background in tourism, youth development and journalism. He is a local who has a distinct passion for the area he works in. You will find Mark crewing aboard any one of the ATSS vessels and passing on his abundant knowledge of the Abel Tasman National Park to the guests.
Built by Keith Knapp, Paul Smith & Greg Knapp in 2019.
Length: 18 metres Construction: Alloy Capacity: 100 people Hull design: Catamaram Engines: 2 x 404 Kw Iveco Diesels Status: Flagship – in service Location: Innovator works the summer timetable right through the Abel Tasman National Park from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui.
Built by Keith Knapp, Paul Smith & Greg Knapp in 2010.
Length: 24.9 metres Construction: Alloy Capacity: 150 people Hull design: Catamaram Engines: 2 x 485 Kw Scania Diesels Status: Flagship – in service Location: Crusader works the summer season right through the Abel Tasman National Park from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui.
Built by Keith Knapp, Paul Smith & Greg Knapp in 2007.
Length: 14.98 metres Construction: Alloy Capacity: 70 people Hull design: Catamaran Engines: 2 x 450hp Diesels Status: In service Location: Year round throughout the Abel Tasman National Park from Kaiteriteri to Totaranui.
Built by Keith Knapp, Paul Smith & Greg Knapp in 2006.
Length: 13.24 metres Construction: Alloy Capacity: 49 people Hull design: Catamaran Engines: 2 x 450Hp Diesels Status: In service Location: Adele II is one of our main towing vessels and Kaiteriteri Kayak support vessel and works throughout the park. You’ll often see her around Kaiteriteri, Motueka, Marahau and Awaroa inlet.
Built by Keith Knapp, Paul Smith & Greg Knapp in 2009.
Length: 13 metres Construction: Alloy Capacity: 42 people Engines: 2 x 450hp Diesel Status: No longer in service Location: Throughout the Abel Tasman National Park, Kaiteriteri, Marahau, Awaroa & Totaranui.