As Bill English's campaign to be re-elected Prime Minister winds up, he says losing has not even crossed his mind.

The National leader set off on his campaign bus on the now-traditional pilgrimage from Wellington to Auckland on election eve.

English, relaxed and confident, sat at the front of the bus with wife Mary and read a copy of the Financial Times. His sons Rory and Xavier came along for the ride, as the group made whistlestop visits to Lower Hutt, Paraparaumu, Bulls and Whanganui.

Three days ago, 250 people packed into Whanganui's Majestic Square to hear Labour leader Jacinda Ardern speak. English's visit was a bit trickier.


As he stepped out of his big, blue bus the rain began pelting down. His entourage squeezed under the awning of a florist on the main street. "Is Jacinda gonna tax this?" one of the National supporters said, looking skyward at the rain.

A small group of protesters holding signs about seabed mining and New Zealand's suicide rate harangued English. National supporters tried to block them with their signs. "You're not welcome here," one of the protesters said. "You've got two days left, Bill," another of them warned.

If National can't form a government on Saturday, these walkabouts in North Island towns will be the last act of English's 27-year political career.

"I haven't thought about that all, to be honest," he told reporters earlier.

"We're just running hard to get our vote up. I know the way politics works. It has been a privilege to be able to serve as a government and certainly as a Prime Minister and New Zealand needs a strong Government coming next week so we can keep on with the success we've got.

"It's in the hands of the voters."

English, for so long the quiet man behind John Key, is now at ease with campaigning and being in the spotlight - the endless procession of photographs, handshakes, and 20-second pitches for a voter's support. He has got used to having a 3m picture of himself emblazoned on the bus, he said.

"I've enjoyed it, probably more than most people expected."


But despite saying that losing hadn't entered his mind, it had clearly not been completely exorcised.

At Whanganui MP Chester Borrows' electorate office, one of the walls was signed by past National leaders and Prime Ministers. English's name was already on the wall from years ago.

But the National leader signed his name again, and added "PM" next to it this time - a reminder that no matter what happens on Saturday he once led the country.

"Hopefully that's still relevant on Monday," he said.