Me & My Car: High and mighty
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You’re driving a Jeep Wrangler?
Yes — it’s a brand new 2017 Jeep Wrangler Overland five-door 4WD with a 3.6L V6 engine and automatic transmission. It’s white, but we’ve put a wrap on it to let people know they can win it if they buy my new book Essential Annabel Langbein. At the moment it’s got a giant photo of me on the side, but you can take that off if you win it.
Why the Jeep?
I’m not an official ambassador for Jeep but I’m loving driving it. It’s powerful but at the same time zippy. Because you’re up high, you get a great view.
Who else is allowed to drive your Jeep?
I occasionally let my photographer have a turn at the wheel.
How does your Jeep suit your personality?
It makes me feel like I’m on holiday. There’s something lighthearted about it, like you’re always just setting off on an adventure.
And how does it fit in with your work?
It’s so practical for carrying boxes of books, signs, my portable kitchen and everything else.
Tell us about your other Jeep?
“Big Yellow” is our 1982 J20 flat-deck Jeep: it’s our farm truck and tree-buying transport in Wanaka. It was also the real star of my TV series The Free Range Cook.
First car you owned?
In my late teens, I owned a Honda station wagon I called Harry.
Your dream car ... if you had “free range”?
One that parks itself.
Who taught you to drive?
I learned to drive an A40 truck around the paddock of a family friend’s farm in Tirau when I was 15. I sat my licence on my 15th birthday — but failed the written.
Your children Sean and Rose are in their mid-20s now. Who taught them to drive?
My husband. He is a patient man with nerves of steel.
Favourite car colour?
White is bright, fresh and people can see you coming, so you feel safe.
How often do you clean your Jeep?
My husband cleans my Jeep. He is also the tidy one in the family.
And what do you always keep in your vehicle?
I always have reusable supermarket bags in the boot.
I treat my car a bit like a moveable house — I usually have a picnic basket, some spare shoes, a beach towel and copies of my most recent book to give to friends.
Do you prefer manual or automatic?
I enjoy driving a manual because you feel like you’re really driving, but an automatic is easier, especially if you’re somewhere hilly.
Most memorable road trip?
That would have to be my recent tiki-tour around the North Island, signing my new book at bookstores, meeting wonderful people and visiting some of our top travel destinations, including White Island and Hobbiton. We got off the highways and went into the byways and the autumn landscape was so beautiful and so diverse. Going from the bush to the mountains to the sea, I felt so proud to be a New Zealander. We’re planning the South Island leg for later in the year and I can’t wait for that.
Funniest printable thing that has happened to you in a vehicle?
When I was catering, many years ago, I was on the motorway on my way out to a shoot when my assistant screamed. I slammed on the brakes, thinking something terrible had happened, and all my stuffed pumpkins came flying off the back seat and landed on the dashboard.
If you could go anywhere, in any car, with any celebrity?
I’d love to take David Attenborough on a road trip around New Zealand in my Jeep. Our untouched coastal landscapes retain such a rawness that there’s a sense of going back in time. I’d take a picnic and we’d stop in some beautiful place by the side of the road to eat and enjoy the scenery.
What do you listen to when you’re driving?
I’ll often listen to the National Programme, but when I’m on a roadie I like having a roadie playlist.
What are great days trip out of Auckland and Wanaka?
To escape Auckland, I love to drive out through the Waitakere foothills to the West Coast beaches. In Wanaka I’ll often take people up to the Roy Roy Glacier walk at the end of the Matukituki Valley.
Do you prefer driving in Auckland or Wanaka?
That’s a no-brainer. There is very little traffic in Wanaka and there are no traffic lights. My commute from my house in Wanaka to the Queenstown airport takes an hour over the Crown Range — the highest main road in New Zealand and one of the most spectacular stretches in the country. I never tire of it.
Do you have a special number plate?
I’ll always remember the number plate CP9241. It was my father’s car — a red, four-door finned Plymouth. He bought it back from the US before I was born and it was his pride and joy.
●Annabel Langbein will be signing books at the Jeep stand at the NZ Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek Events Centre, Hamilton, June 14-17.