Meet Jude Heath: whitewater rafting guide, photographer, dedicated marine and freshwater educator.

She shares treasures of the sea in South Island, New Zealand, through art and marine education (and more!)

Jude Heath all-round water adventurer and educator #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Jude Heath all-round water adventurer and educator #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Where were you born, and where do you live now?

Motueka Hospital

I now live at Riuwaka beside the sea

Where are your favorite waters?

Riuwaka Source, Abel Tasman National Park Coastline, Motueka and Buller Rivers and the coastline from  Waipu Cove,Tutukaka to Cape Reinga


How does water make you feel?

Alive and energised.

Would you please share a few favourite water memories?

Kayaking through a cave north of Tutukaka watching the changing greens and blues of the water inside the cave and stopping to drink fresh water dripping from Pohutukawa roots dangling from the cave roof.

Snorkelling at Tonga Quarry in the Abel  Tasman with 15 metres vizability, feeling like I was floating over a rock garden of different coloured sea anemones and watching bright orange squid with the most amazing blue eyes swimming all around me.

Drift diving down the Motueka River through gentle rapids, watching eels, trout and the changing rippling colours of the rocks on the river bed.

Sitting on a rock ledge jutting out over the ocean at Waimea Bay in Oahu, Hawaii, saying goodbye to the giant old turtles when one jumped out of the water right in front of me.

Jude Heath navigating the calmer waters, in anticipation of stronger rapids during her whitewater guiding gig #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Jude Heath navigating the calmer waters, in anticipation of stronger rapids during her whitewater guiding gig #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

How do you incorporate nature in your life, and the way you make a living?

I have worked as a whitewater raft guide, outdoor photographer, sea kayaking guide, tutored Conservation Corps groups and owned an eco adventure kayak company.

I enjoy taking people into the outdoors to open their eyes about nature, and installing naturally from hands-on experience, a passion to conserve our waterways.

I have lead groups of all ages across numerous waterways here in New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland.

After years of guiding I swapped to teaching and worked for Northland Polytechnic as an Environmental Tutor, Outdoor Recreation tutor and photographer for advertising billboards. I lead and worked alongside others delivering programmes to save whales and environmental projects from Maungaturoto to Cape Reinga.

My dream was to take primary and secondary students outside of the classroom to learn about our marine and freshwater habitats so I completed a primary teaching degree and then the struggle began.

Many principals were frightened of being sued and reluctant to let students learn outdoors.

Then I meet Samara from Experiencing Marine Reserves and Kim from Whitebait Connection. These two amazing woman had set up outdoor educational and science based programmes for early childhood, primary and secondary schools which were New Zealand safety audited and accredited. So now, I deliver these programmes to schools across the Nelson/ Tasman Region.

I watch students’ eyes come alive by looking under the sea and learning about a marine habitat.


Jude Heath, born mermaid #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Jude Heath, born mermaid #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Why do you do what you do?

Because the youth are our future leaders, and by giving them enjoyable experiences in marine and freshwater environments, they can see for themselves how important it is to maintain and protect these environments. These children educate their own parents and their own children in the future. The more people who become passionate about our waterways, the more kaitiaki (Maori: guardians and stewards) we have in years to come.

Do you have a side ‘hustle’, a passion project? Do you find it blends nicely with your ‘day job’? Tell us more

My sideline interest is paddle boarding, surfing and photography capturing light through various water adventure activities.

Jude Heath taking a stand for outdoor education #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Jude Heath taking a stand for outdoor education #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

What happens when you don’t have time for nature?

I get grumpy (:

I have to have time for nature because nature soothes my soul

Could you please share a time or experience where you felt lost in the crowd, like a tiny, insignificant drop?

Sometimes when I’m working on my own teaching many different students to snorkel

I hope that I am making a difference but I’m not sure as I’m working in isolated areas.

How did you turn that around, and how did you get back to feeling like you were a whole Ocean in a Drop?

Meeting and talking to other inspirational water people in New Zealand and around the world makes me feel more connected as a whole to others who are looking after our marine and freshwater habitats. These connections help strengthen what everyone is doing. Thanks Candace!!

Is there anything bothering you about the whole eco/green/conservation thing at the moment?

I wish New Zealand would stop spraying beside waterways, as a country we seem to be abit spray crazy especially with the overuse of Roundup.

The removal of plastic from our waterways feels very slow.

What do you find is working? And what change do you hope to see in this lifetime?

On a positive I am loving seeing all the planting projects happening around our region but I wish they would get rid of plastic sleeves round the plants, the cardboard ones are so superior and compost well into the ground.

Public awareness of the overuse of plastic bags is working.

Is there anything you would love to tell the you from ten years ago?

Every little bit helps.

All the planting projects from 10 years ago look fantastic.

After removing old mans beards you need people to go back over the area yearly to make a difference or it will just grow back.

Stopping industry from draining our waterways by contacting council works well

Just keep going picking up rubbish and raising awareness.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Kaitiaki takes many generations

Who would be a good person/ organization to donate merchandise profit portions to?

Tasman Bay Guardians

Where can we find out more about the work you do?

Jude Heath paddling with #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

Jude Heath paddling with #OceaninaDropNZ #AmazingWaterPeople

23 September – 9 November 2018: #OceaninaDropNZ colouring competition is now on!

It’s for all ages #kidscolouring #adultscolouring and helps with creativity and mindfulness.

Enjoy some ocean art, and take part to win great prizes perfect for summer beach days!

Download your free copy here.

Ocean in a Drop : A series of illustrations by Candace Loy, with each water drop shape filled with sea life and the life that water supports, of a country or state (e.g., California). The bigger vision is to use portions of profits from the sale of beautiful and unique merchandise, to contribute to local marine, freshwater education, research and conservation initiatives in the region depicted by the drop.

#BlueMind is a movement started by Dr Wallace J Nichols, who is also a successful turtle conservation researcher. He has done collaborations with many people including neuroscientists, to show the positive effects of being around water, on the brain.

Not only is there an increasing number of organizations supporting people in overcoming PTSD and other debilitating circumstances through water-based therapy like surfing and swimming; his message is to encourage as many people to reconnect and strengthen their bonds with water, and be inspired as a result to take care of waters across our blue planet.

Combining neuroscience, honouring emotions and using it to create more beneficial solutions for our planet and the life she supports. Here are some of his talks on neuroconservation.

#OceaninaDrop + share your favourite water memory to inspire others, on Instagram and Facebook, and get featured xo