Photo / Jesse and Jessie Peters

Hybrid SUVs Look Great, But Are They A Smart (And Sustainable) Choice For Busy Creatives?

A dynamic duo who are always on the road, photographers Jesse and Jessie Peters test out Toyota's high-calibre new hybrid for a whirlwind weekend

Like many of us, Jesse and Jessie Peters are on a journey to live more sustainable lives. Toyota is on an emissions mission of its own, harnessing electrification to evolve its fleet — like its handsome SUV, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. We asked the two creatives (they’re wedding photographers by trade) to take it for a spin, experiencing a hybrid for themselves — less petrol means lower emissions — and seeing if it was up to the task of their demanding vocation.

Photo / Jesse and Jessie Peters

Where did you take the Highlander Hybrid, and what’s it like to drive?

That weekend happened to be one of the busiest weekends for weddings this year so we put the Highlander Hybrid to work! We loaded it up with gear for jobs in the heart of town and out at The Hunting Lodge as well as some location scouting for work over the next couple of weeks. We also stopped in at Sea Breeze cafe for some caffeine and a bite to eat, and took our son for a quick trip to the park on Monday afternoon. The Highlander was great to drive, it really did handle every situation with ease. From navigating inner city carparks to finding locations on the west coast. Being six foot two, Jesse found it incredibly comfortable and spacious even with a whole bridal party plus gear crammed into the back. The interior felt clean and sophisticated, which is a big plus for us when we take our couples for photos.

Photo / Jesse and Jessie Peters

What was it like driving a hybrid electric vehicle?

It was a great experience overall. We certainly noticed how economical it was over the time we had it, as we put in some solid driving time. The tank was still three quarters full, that is impressive. The driving experience is hard to fault, there were certainly no downsides in our hybrid experience but there are plenty of benefits. We have been talking about making the switch to a hybrid electric or battery electric vehicle for a while now, it just makes sense in today’s climate, and they have come such a long way in the last few years. We will be looking to upgrade to a fourwheel drive soon and something like the Highlander Hybrid would tick a lot of boxes for both our work and family life. It was great to get to spend some time in one and put it to the test.

Is driving important to your work as photographers who specialise in weddings?

Yes, we spend a lot of hours on the road, I think that’s almost a New Zealand tradition in itself. Our beautiful landscape means weddings are held across the country and we like to be available to our couples wherever they choose to celebrate. We location scout specifically for every single wedding. It’s a huge part of the service we provide for our couples and depends so much on their own personal style, where the wedding is located and most importantly what the light is going to be doing at the time photos will be taken. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have the perfect spot in mind but often the reality is hours of driving around. Logistics are important, we have to make sure the places we go are accessible and close enough to the wedding venue. An all wheel drive vehicle makes that job much easier as a lot of the time it’s little spots off road that provide the best backdrops.

Photo / Jesse and Jessie Peters

Where are some of your favourite destinations around the country?

We are fortunate enough to visit a lot of amazing corners of Aotearoa, there are too many to list, but the best part is when we have a job in a part that neither of us have been to before, that is the best. To take a few extra days and
explore a new area really does make you appreciate how amazing our country is.

Any favourite spots that have a sustainable approach?

We love a drive out to The Farmhouse Clevedon for lunch and a walk around the farm. Our new local grocer The Nest in Kingsland opened during the last lockdown and we loved walking there for supplies. They specialise in
artisan, organic and local produce and have the best fresh cook at home pizzas.

Photo / Jesse and Jessie Peters

Are you noticing a trend for more sustainable weddings from your clients?

We photographed a beautiful wedding at The Hotel Britomart this weekend, a uniquely built hotel in the heart of Auckland and a beautiful example of the move towards more sustainable business practices in the hospitality sector. We have also seen a lot of brides do away with some of “extras” that weddings have traditionally involved in favour of a more curated day with the things that really matter, lots more brides are buying gowns second hand as well as utilising all of the wonderful hire companies that provide everything you need without the wastage afterwards!

How are you trying to minimise your impact on the planet?

We are really just trying to do our bit one little decision at a time. Having a toddler really highlights our culture of excess so we have tried to buy less new and find ways to recycle and upcycle as much as possible. We are currently on the hunt for a new house and so looking forward to a garden to start growing some of our own produce, for us it’s not about buying more of the “eco-friendly” things and more about trying to think about what we actually need and how we use the things we have well. We are lucky enough to work from home so during the week our driving is minimal, it’s the long trips for work that tick up the miles for us but as much as possible we keep our day to day life close to home asmuch as possible.

Photo / Jesse and Jessie Peters

Learn more about the Highlander Hybrid and Toyota’s electrification journey on Toyota.co.nz

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