Bill English didn't claim victory in the second leaders debate last night. But his tour of Lower Hutt and the Wairarapa today resembled a victory lap.

Accompanied with wife Mary, the National Party leader had a spring in his step during a visit to a rest home, cafes, a bike hire store and a boutique chocolate shop.

At one point, they were paraded around the city square in Martinborough on a rickshaw, waving at passers-by as if they were royalty - with the diplomatic protection squad following behind at 5km/h in an SUV.

"You did really well last night," said a young farmer in Martinborough. "You killed it."


"You won that debate," said a small business owner in Masterton, who crossed the street to shake his hand.

"Well done last night," said a woman supporter at a Masterton café.

English started the day at the Bob Scott Retirement home in Petone, where he announced more money for elective surgery. The policy is another of National's Greatest Hits, to go with new roads and being tough on crime.

All the questions were about the pension, but English had little to worry about because his party's policy of raising the entitlement age to 67 doesn't kick in for another 20 years.

In Masterton, English found it difficult to find anyone who wasn't either voting National already or unable to vote at all.

Four Solway College students, too young to vote, took a selfie with English and put it immediately on Instagram with the caption #BackingBill.

Two British holidaymakers, amazed to find themselves in a personal conversation with the Prime Minister, took a selfie and put it straight on Facebook: "Only in New Zealand". They'd been in the country a year - nearly long enough to vote.

His visit to Masterton was not a complete home-run.


At an appliance store, one woman did not appear to realise he was the Prime Minister, instead asking him about the relative merits of a top-loader or a front-loader.

English eventually shuffled away, a little bemused.

The closest he got to a hurdle was a woman in a Martinborough Cafe who, after sizing him up, said: "I thought you were taller."

"Well, you're just the right size," English replied.

He was especially satisfied to meet a couple of constituents in Masterton who repeated National's talking points back to him.

Dairy farmer John Stevenson told English that if Labour took power, he was "staring down the barrel of three taxes".

He had calculated that his 380 hectare farm would pay $38,000 more in tax if Labour introduced a water tax.

"I've spent $300,000 on environmental measures. And [Labour] are telling us they are gonna send beneficiaries to fence off our waterways and that they're gonna do a better job."

English didn't need to say a thing. His job here was done.

He had a momentary lapse while popping into a travel agent, where the staff told him that there were $1300 return flights to Europe this summer.

"Really?" he said, looking at his wife Mary as if tempted. He then caught himself.

"Actually, I am not planning to be on holiday this summer."