Born in Glenfield, Auckland, New Zealand, Hunter began modelling by age 17 and rose to prominence after posing as a Sports Illustrated model in 1989. She appeared on magazine covers, including Cosmopolitan and on the 1994 "Dream Team" cover of Sports Illustrated's annual swimsuit issue.
She was paid a reported $1.8 million to pose nude for Playboy magazine in 2004. She also replaced Penny Lancaster, the wife of Hunters'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 guest starred in a 1997 episode of The Drew Carey Show as herself, the spokesmodel for fictional beer brand, Cap-beer-chino.