Key Points:

Just before the Green Party ruled National out of any post-election deal, National's leader, John Key, was in his electorate wondering whether his previously unknown talent for growing parsley would add to his green credentials.

At the shops in Kumeu, a woman has politely pulled him aside, saying she has "nothing political" to say.

"But I wanted to say thank you for the parsley from your garden."

"That's a pleasure," he replies, and she leaves content.

He admits he knew nothing about the parsley in his garden - a staffer notes his electorate office has a healthy crop which constituents harvest at will. "Clearly my parsley policy is a winner in my local electorate," he says, wondering if free parsley which he didn't know about is within the definition of "treating" - the law which forbids MPs from giving voters anything more than a cup of tea and dry biscuit.

"Mint is my own herb of choice. Or basil with a pasta pomodoro."

He has spent the morning with his enemies in his sights - announcing his party would clamp down on crims with more police, saying the Prime Minister showed few signs of understanding the economy, and predicting doom for all if Labour and the Green Party hook up after the election.

Now he is on the hunt for friends, with a one-way ticket to Coatesville on his party's new "campaign bus" frocked out in National Party blue and photos of Mr Key.

Mr Key announces the bus is carbon neutral, because the party paid to offset the emissions. His companions include Archie the Dalmatian dog and party members in glitter hats with tinsel pompoms.

"Eighty cents," he jokes from the front seat as journalists board. "There's an off-peak discount."

In his own electorate supporters aren't hard to find. He tells a Korean couple - Wendy You and Young Seo - about his new Korean candidate, Melissa Lee.

"I like him," is Mr Young's verdict. "Because he's handsome."

At a Coatesville cafe, the Dalai Lama lands him another possible vote.

An American undecided voter always liked Helen Clark but had second thoughts because Clark had not met the Dalai Lama on his visit.

Mr Key tells her he met the Dalai Lama and she pushes him further, "but would you as Prime Minister?"

"I would," he replies.

He gets off the bus and takes the Crown car back to his last appointment of the day, a senior citizens meeting in Orakei. There's applause for his law and order stance, and a chuckle at his joke that New Zealand is "a great exporter of lamb chops and doctors". Heads nod when he says he doesn't like "death duties or death".

There's a stronger note of dissent when he's asked by Frank Bull if he will change the anti-smacking law after a referendum.

Mr Key lays out his position - that the law change would have happened without National's support and National's compromise ensured decent parents wouldn't be charged for inconsequential acts.

"That's weak," Mr Bull says. "That's weasel words, John."

Mr Key repeats his vow to change it if parents are penalised for "lightly smacking" a child. When Mr Bull says he doesn't accept it, Mr Key has had enough.

He says he sees no merit in traversing that same debate while the economy is suffering and there are law and order issues to be resolved.

The meeting ends and Key departs, having at least given some solace to Helen Clark that she is not the only one facing the flak over the law change.