Many politicians borrow campaign techniques from their international counterparts, but Labour leader David Cunliffe apparently found inspiration from sprinter Usain Bolt for the final stretch of the campaign.

Mr Cunliffe on Labour's bus "Big Red" travelled round Auckland to safe Labour electorates yesterday - at pace. He redefined walkabouts as sprint-abouts, in an apparent bid to get to as many people as possible. At St Lukes he hurtled through the mall, pausing for a photo and moving on. He did the same at Auckland University's quad -- each encounter ending with "we're moving on!"

His MP Jacinda Ardern farewelled him with a hug and a plea: "Not so fast next time."

Then it was to Mt Roskill and Kelston for a bit of rush-hour sign waving. Someone found him a coffee and a megaphone and he was off again, bellowing "Labour, Labour, Labour" at pace to passing motorists.

Advertisement

There were lots of supportive toots. But Big Red fell victim to some guerrilla graffiti when someone wrote a large "GREEN" and smaller "Go National" amongst the pro-Labour messages. The vigilant bus driver was swift to wipe them off.

There was also a sense of urgency as Prime Minister John Key tried to cover most of the North Island by bus in a final push, aiming to finish at a Kumeu vineyard tonight. As the blue bus set off the driver announced "JK One" was on the "road to victory". Key was more hesitant, repeating his phrase from the final leaders' debate: "Expect the Unexpected."

Safe National electorates - Tukituki, Otaki - were given the whirlwind treatment: Fifteen minutes of Prime Ministerial selfies amid jostling crowds in the town square.

A group of Conservatives joined the melee around Mr Key in Napier, and a few couldn't resist a picture with him. "We're here for solidarity - not protest," said Garth McVicar, Conservatives' Napier candidate.

Palmerston North and Hutt South, knife-edge electorates, got more leisurely walkabouts.

By evening, the National bus had covered 500km and seven stops. But Mr Key was back on a flight to the capital to appear on night-time TV. "Just two days to go," he said.