In Sylvia Park, the bus is waiting for John Key. His face is on it, smiling, and several feet high.
But later in the day, the Key standing below the National Party campaign bus was not smiling.
Questions centred on the tea cup tapes, and Key does not want to talk about the tea cup tapes, he wants to talk about "the issues that matter".
On John Key's walkabouts the issue that matters appears primarily to be getting a photo with the Prime Minister.
At the Hawkes Bay farmers' market, other issues that matter included his holiday home in Maui. A family which lived in Maui have approached him to talk about their fondness for the place. They discuss its merits and he tells them he's hoping to spend more time there "post-politics."
He talks about his training regime, about his wife's birthday, a bar he once frequented in Dublin, about his son and daughter. He admires someone's new iPhone and passes on parenting tips to a newborn's parents: "One thing will never change: There will always be demands for money."
At WestCity in Henderson, he meets evidence of the income gap with Australia in the form of Paiao Short, who works on the mines in Kalgoorlie.
She loves New Zealand, but the money's too good in Australia. He talks to her about her job, rather than that income gap. She later says she's a National voter.
On the Kapiti Coast, Phil Goff walks into the Southward Car Museum to talk to Grey Power, a ball of nervous energy. He's talking too loudly and the bonhomie seems forced. This is the brave front.
He twice puts off going up for his speech, checking to see if more people are coming, waiting until every possible person has come in.
The campaign trail has been a more bruising experience for him. After some low turnouts, this time they're playing it safe. Political leaders usually speak in the auditorium at the museum. But he will be in a much smaller room upstairs. He need not have worried - about 120 people end up filing into the room. Almost all are Labour voters, judging from the standing ovation and wild applause at every barb at National. The relief is almost palpable.
Key's visits are centred on National's "achievements." Construction sites are a regular - roads, hospitals, tourism ventures.
Goff's campaign is focused on highlighting National's negatives. There's an unrelenting focus on the cost of living, jobs and asset sales. He visits food banks, a kiwifruit orchard with Psa, skills training centres and dams run by state-owned power companies where there are no voters but a point to be made.
His small talk is not as small as Key's. At a Tauranga Food Bank, he tells school children packing food parcels that there are less fortunate children who go to school with empty stomachs, and so they should be aware of the importance of agencies such as the food bank and the Salvation Army. He looks inordinately pleased when the girls wrap him in a group hug.
He talks to them like a teacher, rather than the slightly distant uncle of Key.
Key keeps most of his encounters personal and light-hearted. His genius is that he asks questions and talks as if he hasn't got microphones and cameras under his nose, as if it is just he and they in the middle of the footpath. He never lectures and when he does mention policy, it's almost as if he's embarrassed about electioneering.
Sometimes he's asked a serious question, about the minimum wage or the Trans Pacific Partnership and these too he answers. But he shuts down a conversation that's not going his way with an "oh, well," a shrug, a polite farewell and walking away. He will never get into an argument. He never asks for a vote or support.
When one woman at a restaurant in Napier's West Quay says he must get sick of making "such slight conversation" and still keep smiling, he smiles.
Yet it is geared toward news coverage. These events are less about meeting these people than being seen to meet these people. There are not public meetings with potentially tricky questions from the audience at the end.
Key's other technique is touch. He has patted his way around the country - tickling toddlers' stomachs, chucking chins, ruffling hair, rubbing women on the upper arm and patting shoulders, clasping mens' arms.
It appears casual, but is too frequent and too obvious to be anything but deliberate. This Prime Ministerial laying of the hands is something he did not do in 2008. It is aimed at reinforcing a personal connection. It also shows an astounding level of confidence. Touch is a very personal thing. Yet nobody pulls away apart from a few children.
Goff is cheerful in Kawerau. He's just heard John Key walked out of a press conference after repeated questioning about the tea tapes.
At the Kawerau Bowling Club, someone says "you should have brought John Key."
"No, he's in hiding today," Goff responds.
Goff is more relaxed with the veterans at the bowling club, who welcome him with some gentle ribbing. He talks about his dad and is asked to speak.
He puts on a show of demurring, not sure if it's appropriate having gatecrashed their post-game sausage rolls, saveloys and beer for electioneering.
He rewards them with some jokes before he moves on to talk about asset sales.
He leaves happy with the day. But Goff's problem is expressed by former Labour voters Rose and David, who talk to Key in Hastings.
"Labour's lost its way," Rose says to Key. "I was very nervous when you came into power. Very nervous. But you've done a good job. I have full faith in your leadership."
When another woman suggests to Key that he surely "can't miss," he is quick to respond.
"Oh, you can always miss. It's like Rugby World Cups."
He has been quick to damp down talk his re-election is inevitable, just as Goff has been keen to persuade people that his goose isn't quite cooked yet.
But it is in the more unguarded moments that their real expectations show. At the Hawkes Bay Farmers' Market Key told a German "I'm going to go to Germany next year if I can. To see Angela Merkel." There is no mention of the possibility he might not be the Prime Minister, but it is presumably not a social visit.
In Phil Goff's at-home chat with the Herald on Sunday he says he's looking forward to having a holiday: "It'd be great to have a month off, read a few books, lie around on the beach."
A newly-minted Prime Minister does not take a month off to read books and lie on the beach.