Sky’s the limit for environment champ

Heather paragliding from Sugarloaf Saddle, August 2020

For Melanie Heather, Otago Regional Council (ORC)  Senior Environmental Officer who lives in Cardrona, knowing her work is having a positive impact on protecting the natural environment is what gets her out of bed every day.

“My official role is Senior Environmental Officer in the compliance team – and when I tell people that, it sounds like I go around with a big stick. It’s not the case at all,” Melanie says. 

“I work with such an array of people within our community to educate, coach, and find solutions with them to comply with rules that protect our environment. It can be a slow process, but it’s very satisfying when you’ve experienced success.

“It’s the most rewarding work you can do. When I go to work, I’m doing it for my neighbors, my friends, my community, for my hobbies. My role at ORC means there’s no middle person, and I have a direct positive impact.” 

Armed with a degree in environmental science and having implemented a significant water catchment management policy in the European Union, it was the great outdoors that drew Melanie to immigrate to New Zealand from the emerald isle 14 years ago. 

“I traveled around New Zealand for a year, but living and working in the Southern Lakes District is my dream,” she says. “We bought our home in Cardrona six years ago, and we love the community there; everyone is very happy, helpful, and friendly. I like how it’s semi-rural. I love where I live.” 

Despite living on the doorstep of Cardrona Ski Resort, Melanie is not an avid skier. Still, no one can suggest she doesn’t make the most of the district’s natural playground with paragliding, pack-rafting, and hiking all everyday activities, sometimes even together.

“A couple of weeks ago we hiked Sugarloaf Pass, paraglided down into the Dart River and pack-rafted out to the Dart Bridge. It was great craic (fun).”

Read edition 990 of the Wānaka Sun here.


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