First Vets Whanganui


Meet the team at First Vets Whanganui


Nicola - Frist Vets Veterinarian

BVSc (Distinction)

Nicola is one of those rare people who knew what she wanted to do from a very young age.  Born and raised on a sheep & beef farm in Southland, Nicola was introduced to the importance of animal health at a young age.  After moving to the North Island to undertake her veterinary study at Massey University in 1987; the warmth of the North was too appealing, and so she moved to Whanganui in 1991,  initially working as a mixed animal veterinarian, before developing her interest in small animal clinical practice.  Nicola went on and established the VetCare Veterinary Nursing training in Whanganui which she successfully ran for 15 years, while also continuing to practice as a vet.

Nicola has an interest in building a business that delivers outstanding customer service, has a preventative focus towards animal health and welfare, offers Whanganui animal owners a real choice, and importantly, is a fun and inviting place for customers and colleagues.  Nicola’s special interests include small animal medicine, diagnostics and education.  She is also privileged to be involved in helping with the selection of students into the BVSc programme at Massey – giving back to her profession in different ways is important to her.

Family is central for Nicola, with her two boys, a household of pets and her husband, spare time is at a premium.  You may see her running with Max (the Border Collie), garden shopping, or taxiing her boys to the next event.

Nicola is looking forward to welcoming you to First Vets soon!




Meet Catherine, one of our awesome veterinarians! Originally hailing from Otago, Catherine had a very interesting childhood. At age 8, her family moved overseas and she completed her schooling years in China and Kuwait. From a young age, Catherine knew she wanted to be a vet, and returned to New Zealand after high school to start vet school. After graduating from Massey University in 2013, she initially moved to Taranaki to work in mixed animal practice. There, she met her husband and joined him on his fourth-generation family farm just outside of Waverley.

The variety and unpredictability that veterinary work brings is just one of the reasons Catherine loves being a veterinarian. Catherine loves being able to make a difference to patients’ lives, and to build relationships with clients while working with them to ensure their animals receive the best possible outcome. She also appreciates the challenges veterinary medicine brings – if only animals could tell us themselves what is wrong!

For Catherine, it’s hard to narrow down her favourite areas of veterinary medicine – however, preventative health, diagnostics, surgery and education are areas of veterinary medicine she is passionate about.

Catherine can often be found out on the family farm, where she is a self-appointed boss of all things related to animal health! She is actively involved with Young Farmers and enjoys taking opportunities to try new things – from sky-diving, to recently learning how to ski. Catherine also enjoys travelling, strategic board-games, and spending time with family and friends.  Her animal family includes two Labradors (Bear and Cru), Felix the cat, George and Mildred the miniature kunekunes, four special sheep, and many named pet cows and calves.

Catherine is excited to be a part of the First Vets family and is looking forward to meeting many more of our clients and their pets!





Meet Julene, a wonderful addition to our veterinary team!

Julene was born in Whanganui and attended school here, after which she completed her veterinary studies at Massey in Palmerston North in 1994, graduating with distinction. Since graduating, Julene has worked in veterinary practices in various locations around New Zealand. Most recently, she has been locuming as a companion animal vet in the lower North Island, and has enjoyed picking up tips from different clinics while furthering her skills and knowledge.

As a veterinarian, Julene loves the variety that veterinary work brings, and that there is always something new to learn in her job. She enjoys challenging herself to always do things better, whether that involves improving pain management techniques, learning new surgical or medical techniques or finding new ways to make things easier for animals and their owners. Julene is passionate about always learning and improving, and helping people to help their animals. In her non-veterinary life, Julene is passionate about conservation and the environment. Julene’s hobbies include riding her bike, walking, going to the gym, going to cafes and restaurants, quizzes, travelling, listening to music, going to shows, and reading and researching.

Julene also has a 10 year old son named Eli whilst Milo, Milly, and 2 red shaver chickens make up Julene’s animal family. Milo was rescued from a bin in Auckland and brought to Wanganui and rehomed to Julene’s family – he is very accident prone! Recently, Milly the 9 year old Cavoodle also joined the family – she is a great walking companion. The 2 red shavers are impressive egg producers and help with the compost production.

Julene considers Whanganui a great place to live and is excited about coming back to work here and seeing you and your animals soon!



James - Veterinarian at First Vets Whanganui

BVSc (Hons)

Meet James! James is originally from the northwest coast of Tasmania in Australia. Growing up on the Tasmanian coast, James was surrounded by more animals than people, so his passion for becoming a veterinarian began at a young age.

He graduated in 2010 with his Bachelor of Veterinary Science (Honors), and has worked in the New South Wales, and Queensland states, then made the jump across the ditch to New Zealand. Over his time since graduation James has worked in companion animal practice, production animal practice, animal welfare, and regulatory practices. He’s quite the all-rounder! Although James is happy to be back in a companion animal practice.

James’ favourite part of being a vet is educating his clients about their animals and working alongside people and their animals to prevent illness. He also finds veterinary medicine fascinating. James loves helping animals get better from illness, but his passion lies in preventative medicine, and population health. He has keen interests in the intersections between animals, humans, and environmental health.

When James is not in the clinic you may find him sipping on a strong coffee and reading a great page-turning book. He enjoys exploring new places, meeting new people, and trying different cuisines. It’s also not uncommon for James to pumping iron with some heavy barbells or playing a challenging boardgame! Like many, he enjoys long walks on the beach, but his preference is long walks up mountains. While he loves rock climbing and snowboarding, he did admit its not his forte currently – but he is keen on improving his skill set!

At home James and his partner have two standard Poodles, Dougal, and Dara. James says they are great dogs, but terrible housemates with a passion for landscaping (digging…) and very closely supervising his cooking!

James can’t wait to meet you!



BVetTech (Veterinary Technician)

Meet Emma, our enthusiastic veterinary technician! Emma was born and raised in Hamilton, and moved to Palmerston North in 2016 to complete her Bachelor of Veterinary Technology (BVetTech) degree. After a short time back in the Waikato, Emma moved to Whanganui to join the First Vets crew.

There are many areas of being a veterinary technician that Emma enjoys. In particular, building trusting relationships with patients and clients is important to Emma, and she loves to see patients leave the clinic happy and healthy! On the technical side of the job, Emma particularly enjoys anaesthesia, and hopes to join the AVTAA (Academy of Veterinary Technicians in Anaesthesia and Analgesia) in the future. Emma loves the new challenges that each day in the clinic brings, and that you never quite know what type of case is going to come through the door next!

Emma is passionate about tailoring veterinary care individually to each patient’s needs and ensuring they are comfortable while in the clinic, no matter how long their stay may be. Avian and exotic pets are an interest of Emma’s, and she looks forward to furthering her knowledge in this area as she develops her career.

In her spare time, Emma enjoys arts and crafts, attending Speedway, participating in dog club events and shows with her Newfoundland Hudson, and spending time with her friends and family. Overseas travel is also an interest of Emma’s. Her animal family includes Willow and Elmo, the gorgeous Mini Lop rabbits, and of course Hudson, the Newfoundland. In the past, Emma has owned budgies (Rio, Cooper, and Cheeko) and has loved the personality quirks of each bird that made them unique!

Emma is excited to launch her career with First Vets, and looks forward to meeting you and your animals!



Zoe - First Vets Veterinarian Nurse

Cert VN (Veterinary Nurse)

Meet Zoe, one of the awesome members of our veterinary support team! Zoe grew up in the Whanganui area and resettled here after working, travelling, and studying elsewhere in NZ and overseas. The scenic surroundings that this area provides are something that Zoe and her family very much enjoy. Zoe completed her veterinary nursing qualification in 2008, and has since then expanded her professional skills both through employment and voluntary work.

For Zoe, favourite parts of the job include interaction with clients and their animals, forming bonds with her patients through gentle animal handling, and the challenges of surgical nursing. Zoe loves to work as part of a team, and to contribute her skills and experience to benefit both her team members and clients.

Conservation, animals, music, the arts, and literature are some of the things Zoe is most passionate about. In her spare time she enjoys exploring the outdoors with her family, painting (recently this includes some amazing rocks!), visiting the theatre, and other pursuits related to the arts. Her animal family includes Onyx and Marble (both 8 year old cats, adopted at just 4 weeks old!), and Charlie the budgie.

Zoe loves seeing animals and their owners going home happy and knowing they have been provided with excellent care and service, and is excited to meet you and your pets!




Dip VN

Meet Christina, one of the friendly faces at our front desk. Christina has been with us on a casual capacity for a few months, and more recently took on permanent hours. Christina grew up in a small
suburb in Christchurch with her parents, older brother, a budgie named Thomas, and a beautiful polydactyl tortoiseshell cat named Paddles. From an early age, Christina knew she wanted to work
with animals. After finishing school, Christina pursued training as an international flight attendant, and five years later took on study to become a veterinary nurse, first gaining her certificate, and
then a diploma in veterinary nursing.

For Christina, there are many wonderful parts of being a veterinary nurse, but she finds being a voice for her patients that don’t have one particularly rewarding. Christina is passionate about animals of
all kinds, aviation, and furthering her knowledge whenever she can. In her spare time, Christina enjoys relaxing with a good book, hoola hooping, and making photo books for her family.

Christina’s precious 15 year old cat Socettes lives in the Marlborough Sounds with her parents, and her favourite thing to do is lay in front of the fire on cold days or go on long bush walks with
Christina’s parents.

Working at First Vets has been extremely enjoyable for Christina, and she has loved getting to know you and your animals! She looks forward to seeing you again soon!




Dip VN

Meet Emma!

Emma joined the First Vets team in January 2023 as a new graduate Vet Nurse.

She is passionate about helping animals; and advocating for her patients where she strongly believes in being the voice for the animals in her care. Emma loves the variety of her job, and really enjoys the day-to-day life of general practice.

In her spare time, Emma loves to read; she enjoys photography; and spending time with her friends and family. She also partakes in kickboxing for that extra adrenaline boost!

Back at home in Palmerston North – where Emma hails from – she has two dogs who love to go to the beach, go on long walks, and chill out at home.

Emma can’t wait to meet you!



Meet Cynelle, our Cattery Assistant!

Cynelle joined us here at First Vets in May 2021.

Cynelle was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, then moved to Auckland in 2018. She and her husband decided to start a new adventure together and moved to the beautiful town of Whanganui in August of 2020. She says it is the best decision she has ever made!

Cynelle has always loved animals and has plenty of her own! She has Chloe – a Jack Russell; Tarouk, Sithura, Tobias, and Keiko – the Australian Shepherds; and Alita and Rukia the cats.

In her spare time, you will find Cynelle painting scenery, reading a good book, camping off the grid in the depths of nature, or studying canine pedigrees and genetics. Cynelle also has a keen interest in dog showing, and conformation showing. Back in South Africa, Cynelle would show her Australian Shepherd Tarouk, who placed 4th Best Australian Shepherd in 2020. When Keiko arrives in New Zealand, Cynelle hopes to compete in Agility with her.

Cynelle loves working with the cats in our cattery every day! She loves seeing the variety of cat breeds, and personalities she gets to meet during the cat’s stay.

She also loves to play with them, to make sure they are getting all the love and attention they could possibly want.

One day, Cynelle hopes to become a Veterinary Nurse – In the meantime, Cynelle will be looking after your feline friends in the cattery! She can’t wait to meet more of our clients, and their furry friends.




Meet Cathy!

Cathy joined us in January 2023 after she moved from Auckland to Whanganui, looking for a new and exciting venture to embark on.

Cathy hails from an SPCA shelter background at her previous job, so she is highly passionate about animal care. Her favourite part of her job is caring for her patients, and ensuring the patients get the care, and love that they deserve.

Outside of work, Cathy loves to explore Whanganui; go to the beach; go shopping; spending time with her friends and family. Cathy also enjoys relaxing at home; listening to music; and spending quality time with her dog, Echo.

Echo is a young Staffordshire Terrier cross who Cathy adopted from the SPCA. Cathy says she is very energetic; loves going for walks to new places; and destroying her toys!



Joanne - Accounts & Administration

Meet Joanne, our accounts and administration extraordinaire!

Jo was born and raised in the United Kingdom, where she grew up in London. She then took a leap over to Sydney, where she lived in for the past 11 years. Looking for another adventure, she moved to Whanganui in March 2023.

Jo has been in many different roles over her working life, including receptionist, travel agent, conference and event manager, and office manager. All these roles have included accounts work, so naturally she jumped at the chance to help us out here at First Vets.

Jo is quite the intrepid traveller! She has visited 45 countries (So far!) and has been on some amazing vacations around the world. Safaris in South Africa and Zambia, glamping at Sydney’s Taronga Zoo, elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, camel riding in Australia, and India, and many!

Jo is a huge fan of birds. While living in Australia, she really enjoyed feeding the kookaburras, cockatoos, and rainbow lorikeets. In New Zealand, Jo loves the waxeyes, and fantails, and she enjoys visiting Bushy Park when she can. Over the years Jo has had many pets. As a child Jo had a budgie named Freddy, then two guinea pigs called Chocolate and Ice Cream.

Initially afraid of dogs, Jo lived with a friend for 4 year who had a wee dog called Friday. Eventually overcoming her fear, Friday and Jo became very good pals. While Jo doesn’t currently have any pets, she enjoys borrowing her friends’ dogs for canine company and enjoys pats with the patient at the clinic.

Jo’s favourite part of accounts is the numbers! She says that with accounts and administration an eye for detail is a must.

Outside of work, Jo enjoys going to church, shopping, watching travel shows, binging TV series, playing board games, and doing puzzles.



Shae - Receptionist

Meet Shae!

Shae was born and raised in Auckland before she moved to Whanganui with her family in January 2023. She later became a receptionist here at First Vets in February 2023. Shae has completed her certificate as a veterinary nursing assistant and hopes to further her veterinary nursing education in the future.

Shae loves the variety of her job, as no day is ever the same, and she is passionate about client care and support! Shae particularly enjoys meeting and greeting our clients and patients alike, and creating a warm, welcoming environment in the vet clinic.

In her spare time Shae enjoys reading poetry, her favourite authors include Mary Oliver and Emily Dickinson. She has a background in dance, drama, and music; having performed in stage shows in previous years. Shae cannot pass up on an opportunity to visit the many second-hand and antique shops here in Whanganui. She also loves candle making!

At home, Shae and her family have 2 pets, Hermione the domestic short hair cat, and Pixie the Griffon. Shae adopted Hermione from her previous job as a cattery assistant at an Auckland vet clinic. Hermione loves to sunbathe and go on adventures during the day. During the evening, she loves to lounge with Shae and sit on her lap. Shae’s family dog, Pixie is a pure-bred Griffon who is described as a gentle sweetheart. Pixie loves her family, and as an elderly dog, she spends most of her time sleeping.

Shae can’t wait to you!



Squid the First Vets Clinic Cat and Practice Meownager

Hi, my name is Squid!

I recently started at First Vets as their Clinic Cat, but I feel I am better suited to Practice Meownager! Maybe they’ll promote me once I am bigger…

I was born in Whanganui and surrendered to the SPCA as a tiny kitty. I still needed bottle feeding because I was so little, so I was fostered by one of the nurses from 10 days old! I came into the clinic each day while I grew big and strong. I loved playing with the nurses and vets at the clinic so much and so was very happy when they said that they wanted me to stay forever!

My favourite pastime is to climb up my tower and sit on the top level to observe the happenings of the day. I like to drag my fish up to the top of the tower and sleep with him next to me. I love to play with my toys and pounce in and out of my tunnel. I also play ‘peek-a-boo’ where I hide, then leap out and grab people’s legs as they walk past me! They NEVER see me coming!

The best thing about being the clinic cat is all the cuddles from everyone, and there’s so many places to explore, and hide in! I also hear I will have an awesome health care plan with all the vets and nurses at my paws!

Please note online bookings are available for the following day onwards, if you require a booking for today please phone the clinic on (06) 281 3157.

Take me to the online bookings


170 Glasgow Street, Whanganui

Ph (06) 281 3157


Follow First Vets Whanganui on Facebook


Contact us:

Telephone 06 281 3157

Email us

170 Glasgow Street, Whanganui 4500

Clinic hours:

Monday - Friday: 8.00am – 5.30pm

Saturday: 9.00am – 12.30pm

Sunday & Public Holidays Closed

AFTER-HOURS EMERGENCIES: Our After-Hours service is provided by Massey University’s Pet Emergency Centre in Palmerston North during the week, and Totally Vets Accident and Medical Centre in Fielding during the weekends.


WEEKDAYS: Phone 0800 738 363  -  WEEKENDS & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS: Phone (06) 324 0812

Follow First Vets Whanganui on Facebook

    Please note online bookings are available for the following day onwards, if you require a booking for today please phone the clinic on
    (06) 281 3157.

    Take me to the online bookings

170 Glasgow Street, Whanganui

Ph (06) 281 3157