Rachel Hunter is a New Zealand model, actress and reality TV show host. She is best known for her appearance in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issues and her marriage to singer Rod Stewart, which ended in 2006. She is a judge on New Zealand's Got Talent. Hunter was born in Glenfield, a suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. Her parents divorced when she was still a child. Wanting to be a ballet dancer, she was diagnosed with a rare blood disease as a teenager, which curtailed her dancing ambitions.Hunter began modelling by age 17 in 1986, One of her first assignments was to model a range of garments designed for the New Zealand beer brand Steinlager in a catalog as part of their sponsorship of the New Zealand KZ7 challenge for the Americas Cup in Freemantle, Australia. That same year she turned down an invitation to pose for Playboy magazine.
She was persuaded by her aunt to fly to the United States, where she signed for the Ford Models agency of New York, landing the Cover Girl cosmetics contract and becoming the spokesperson for the company. Hunter rose to global prominence after posing as a Sports Illustrated model in 1989. She subsequently appeared on magazine covers, including Cosmopolitan and on the 1994 "Dream Team" cover of Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue. Hunter also graced the cover of Vogue Italia, Australian Vogue, American and international editions of Elle and Dutch Harper's Bazaar.
Hunter posed nude for a cover-featured Playboy pictorial published in April 2004. She also replaced Penny Lancaster, the wife of Hunter's ex-husband Rod Stewart, as the face and body of Ultimo, a Scottish lingerie house. In 2006, Hunter was replaced by Helena Christensen. Hunter is signed to Ford Models in New York, Select Model Management in London, and Chadwick Models in Sydney, Australia.