Key Points:

Winston Peters is in a dog grooming shop.

Slap bang in the middle of the fight for his political life, Mr Peters is standing in Bark City Groomers.

The Stokes Valley store has a sideline in pets. There's a rabbit, a cage of cats and a box of rats.

"What kind of cats are they?" asks Mr Peters.

"Moggies," the shop assistant replies.

Mr Peters looks at the rats. He says he doesn't like rats, and makes to leave.

Mr Peters has foregone Tauranga, where he was due to have a rally, to campaign in the Rimutaka electorate where his colleague Ron Mark is an outside chance.

The day began in Upper Hutt where Mr Peters' visit coincides with that of fugitive Matthew George Kidman, who police fear is armed and driving a golf cart.

Mr Peters bumps into a police officer with a Bushmaster rifle in a shop doorway, and while his accompanying NZ First staffer flinches, he did not.

He and Mr Mark were due to meet some Rimutaka prison officers in a campaign stunt where they would promise not to privatise prison management as National has planned. But the officers do not show up at the Buttercup cafe as planned - something to do with the fugitive, apparently.

Mr Peters, hammered in this weeks' One News Colmar Brunton poll in Tauranga, strenuously denied he had given up on winning back the political lifeline.

"Of course I've not given up on Tauranga. I can read a weather forecast and its forecast to rain up there and that's why I'm down here where its fine. We thought we could do more here today than in a wet Tauranga. It is raining: you can't have a rally outside."

A check of the Herald's Tauranga forecast shows "long fine periods, but a few showers also.

Mr Mark would be the ultimate back door to Parliament if NZ First does not get over the 5 per cent threshold.

The Labour MP Paul Swain has retired, and the novice Chris Hipkins is in his place. But Mr Peters has been here just once earlier in the campaign, compared to the two or three days a week he's been spending in Tauranga.

The suspended Minister of Foreign Affairs does some obligatory mall-walking. He chats about the amount of charge in a man's mobility scooter, gets a kiss on the cheek from a woman for the Goldcard.

He orders fish and chips for lunch. Well, two pieces of fish actually - no chips. Too many carbohydrates, says Mr Peters.

They are wrapped in newspaper, and Mr Peters stands on the street in Taita. Where to eat? What about that park bench?

"Not my style," is Mr Peters' answer.