Life at Rachel Hunter’s pace – her nomadic norm

The girl from Glenfield is quite happy making life up as she goes along.
Rachel Hunter

Where in the world is Rachel Hunter?

If you’ve been following the Kiwi supermodel’s social media, you’ll have seen her popping up all over the show – sometimes in the foothills of the Himalayas, sometimes trying a famous-in-New-Zealand paua pie in Tokomaru Bay.

It’s been this way for the 49-year-old for more than half her life, ever since she started modelling as a teen. And though it wouldn’t work for everyone, it’s a way of living that suits her perfectly.

“There’s no real set plan – my life changes quickly,” she says down the phone to the Weekly, laughing.

“It’s fun and it’s exciting, but at the same time you’re always living in the unknown.”

Watch: The television advert that kicked off Rachel Hunter’s modelling career. Article continues below.

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Soon she’ll be back in India, where she learns and teaches yoga and meditation. But over the summer, the Los Angeles resident has been back in New Zealand, which she says still always feels like coming home.

“All the smells, the people, the food, just the nature of New Zealand… You appreciate a lot of stuff when you’re away and then you come back,” she says.

“I would definitely say the freshness of the fruit and vegetables is something I miss when I’m away – and the smell of the seasons, the smell of the trees! It all becomes immediately familiar again, it activates those senses that you’re used to, it gives you that feeling in your tummy of family and friends, the home that you grew up in. It’s so funny how we’re so sensory like that.”

Rachel and Dai filming an UberEats commercial.

One of the things the mum of two got up to while back in New Zealand was slightly different from the others.

Food-delivery system UberEats enlisted Rachel and 7 Days comedian Dai Henwood, among others, for an ad campaign.

In her ad, she’s in a spa pool trying to tell us what she’s having for dinner while Dai interrupts her.

Working with Dai was a joy, Rachel says. “He’s just amazing. His comedic timing – it’s just incredible.”

And she didn’t mind at all hanging out in a spa pool “for some time”.

“It was beautiful to work with the New Zealand crew and I liked that the UberEats commercial was very funny, very tongue in cheek.”

The service is fairly new to New Zealand, but it’s a staple of LA life.

Rachel is a fan of it on nights when she runs out of time to make dinner – her go-to meals are sushi and Vietnamese.

“Sometimes you’re in the middle of something and you forget to eat, and you can’t go out because you’re working. It just makes life easier. The range is always good – you can get healthy stuff, but if you want a pizza, there’s pizza too.”

As she’s grown older, her food choices have changed slightly.

“I definitely eat less meat – no red meat and I’m nearly off chicken. I go through phases. I’ve learned to listen to my body more. If I’ve been eating a lot of crappy food, my body will tell me. That’s something that happens regardless of age – you know when you’re feeling good and you know when you’re not. But I’ve definitely seen my food intake go down a bit as I age.”

Her favourite things to cook revolve around fresh fruit and vegetables, which is how it’s been her whole life.

Growing up in the Auckland suburb of Glenfield, Rachel recalls family trips to rural areas such as Kumeu to pick their own fruit.

“We’d come home with crates of it. That was the fun thing to go and do with your family. I think when you grow up with a love of fresh fruit and veges, it stays with you for life.”

She’s a fan of spinach, jazzed up with garlic and onions and served with fish, and has mastered homemade kumara fries.

“Roast them in some coconut oil, then put really good salt on them!”

The UberEats ad was a little unexpected, but then much of her career has lain outside the box of what we’d expect of a supermodel, whether it’s taking us on a journey through the world of beauty and wellness in the TVNZ show Tour of Beauty, road-tripping for an Air New Zealand safety ad, working with Kiwi skincare brand Plantae or practising and teaching yoga around the world.

“I like the idea of choosing things that don’t necessarily fit the mould,” she says.

“To have only one direction, for me, is too limiting, and I like to expand. Why wouldn’t you pick something a little different?

“I think when people see that you’re living a life of yoga and meditation, they can think, ‘Oh, you’re no fun any more because you don’t drink or you don’t go out,’ and those pressures can be very hard on people. But when you find a life you enjoy, you want to maximise everything!”

Road trips are one of her favourite ways to reconnect with New Zealand.

“And yes, I’ve thought of doing a show travelling around the country in a car, so if any TV people want to fund that, let’s do it!

“I think it’s beautiful to see the heart and soul of New Zealand, because we’re not just one city – we’re a country, and we’re full of these incredible people.”

On a recent trip to the East Cape, Rachel spent the day with locals at a marae.

“I ended up in someone else’s car, they ended up in mine, we met the neighbours… It was the classic Kiwi attitude of, ‘Rach, hop in the car!’

“The open spirit and the warmth from everyone… It’s why those trips around New Zealand are so important to me every time I come home.”

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