This summer Annabel Langbein will return to the family holiday home, but this time instead of cooking for the camera she will cook for friends and family.

Her holiday home is located just outside Wanaka, by the lake, and was the location for her television series Annabel Langbein: The Free Range Cook. She said it was tiny, but large enough to hold her favourite memories.

She said she loved flicking through old photo albums and looking back at the many summers spent at the bach; seeing pictures of her children out on the lake fishing, picnicking, going on adventures, hiking, skiing and throwing snowballs in winter.

"When our two kids were little and we could all fit in the cabin it was like having a whole bunch of puppies in a basket. They used to look down from their mezzanine bedrooms to the dining room table, where invariably we would be up late with friends eating and drinking."


She said this taught them that holidays were a sociable time, so whenever they visit they always invite friends to join them by the lake for a simple meal next to a roaring fire.

"I have so many memories of sitting outdoors listening to the cicadas singing their summer song, while watching the sunset and laughing with our mates."

Ms Langbein said it was a traditional bach, where everything was mismatched and you did not worry about keeping it neat and tidy. There was no television to distract her children, so they played board games.

She said the lack of "hustle and bustle" and "rusticness" made it a relaxing, calming place to decompress from city life.

"It's a bolt-hole to escape to and my inspiration - a place that restores my creative energies and where I have the freedom to think."

Ms Langbein said one of her New Year's resolutions was to spend more time there; she said she loved visiting during summer - especially taking evening swims in the lake. The chef also enjoyed picking fresh vegetables from her garden for dinner.

She and her husband, Ted Hewetson, bought the land in 1997 and built the cabin in 2000.

"We had to clear the bracken and start planting and for a few summers we came back to weeds that were as tall as we were; it was very disheartening, but after a while it started to become a garden."