From Wilton to Wanaka
How a local girl met her future husband halfway around the world
This is the story about a girl, some flying horses, and a Kiwi.
It starts in Wilton, but ends 9,336 miles away in New Zealand, where there are seemingly endless crystal blue waters, breathtaking mountains, and 27 million sheep. By comparison, there are 4.7 million New Zealanders, affectionately known as “Kiwis.”
From a young age the girl, Wilton resident Imogen de Lavis, loved horses. She grew up competing in events, honing her skills, and eventually qualifying at the age of 21 for the Junior Olympics team in 2011. The following year, Imogen decided her next goal would be to compete in the U.K, the country from which her parents had emigrated.
“Great,” said Alison and John de Lavis, “as long as you finish school and get your degree.” So Imogen applied to and was accepted by the Royal Agricultural University in Gloucestershire, England where she would study Equine Science and Business Management. Happily, Imogen loaded her horses Rocky and Bertie onto a plane and flew off to her next adventure. At school, Imogen began interning with an equine vet. When the internship ended early, her mother suggested that Imogen do some traveling, noting that she had cousins near Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand. “I told Imogen that she’ll probably only be in New Zealand once in her life, so why not really see it?”
Imogen agreed, and in no time she was booked on a Contiki tour to New Zealand for 18 to 35 year olds.
When the tour bus stopped in Queenstown, another girl on the trip persuaded Imogen to take a semi-private Lord of the Rings tour, and Imogen agreed. The tour guide was Logan McKelvie, a personable, experienced outdoor educator who had been filling time over the summer before managing and leading autumnal mountain hikes on the South Island. Logan whisked the girls off to enlighten them to the mystical landscapes of Middle Earth.
From the outset Logan was smitten. “I just thought this would be a day like any other, but she had this great smile,” he later confesses. After the tour, each went their own way, but as fate would have it, they ran into each other a day later. They exchanged numbers, and Imogen agreed to look up Logan if she was ever in Queenstown again. “Call me and I’ll show you around,” he offered.
Ten days later Imogen headed back to Queenstown. She and Logan met again and shared coffee, hikes, climbs, and 4x4 trips all around the Queenstown area. According to Imogen, “They were the best first dates I’ve ever been on.” For three years they went back and forth, which was challenging; but determination, smart phones, and Skype kept their relationship strong. And one night, recalls Alison, during a lengthy Skype call “ with an awful lot of small talk,” Logan asked the de Lavises for their daughter’s hand in marriage.
Last April, Logan’s father, an arborist, carefully trimmed branches into beautiful shapes, which were then wrapped with twinkling lights, and hung from the rafters of the Criffel Station Woolshed, in Wanaka, New Zealand, giving the wool-shearing venue a magical appearance for the marriage of Imogen and Logan. Overlooking the Remarkables Mountain Range the pair said their vows amid family and friends from the US, UK, and New Zealand.
Because Imogen had to get back to school after the wedding, the newlyweds only had a couple of days for a honeymoon. Imogen and Logan grabbed sleeping bags and headed to a tiny island where, Logan hoped, he’d be able to show his bride some real, wild kiwis—wingless birds with very long pointy beaks found only in New Zealand. Upon recounting this, Alison couldn’t help but add, “Life will never be boring for them.”
Love really can spring up where you least expect it. And every character in this real-life script played his/her role perfectly—from Alison’’s suggestions, to the stopover in Queenstown, to the girl on the bus who invited Imogen to accompany her on the Lord of the Rings tour. In the end, it’s enough to make us all want to stand up and cheer for the Kiwi, who got the girl who flew the horses.