South Auckland, Bay of Plenty, and Waikato were fitting final campaign stops for Chris Hipkins and Christopher Luxon on Friday as the clock ticks down to election day.
After six weeks traversing the country from Northland to Southland and pretty much everywhere in-between, Hipkins was spending the last nine hours campaigning in and across Labour country (South Auckland).
Meanwhile Luxon began his day in the safe seat of Rotorua before boarding the big blue National Party bus to head to Morrinsville in Waikato, wrapping up his day in his electorate, Botany.
At this point the two leaders aren’t talking to undecided voters or pitching why they should be Prime Minister.
It’s a final lap to thank volunteers, feel the warm embrace of party faithful, and endeavour to look the most victorious on the 6pm news before the reality sets in 25 hours later when the first of the votes start rolling in.
Hipkins’ election eve was a combination of sign-waving, phonebanks, business visits, walkabouts, a Zumba class, and rallying speeches in Papatoetoe, Māngere, and Ōtāhuhu.
Further south Luxon was rallying supporters in Rotorua, making hot chocolates in Morrinsville, taking the National Party bus for a lap around the Hampton Downs racetrack before pulling into Botany for one final hurrah with his electorate volunteers.
The final push came after a scrappy head-to-head leaders’ debate between the two Chrises on Thursday night on TVNZ.
Hipkins went for the more aggressive approach, constantly talking over the top of Luxon (and at times moderator Jessica Mutch McKay) and demanding his opponent answer all the questions, including his.
Luxon, however, went for the more mellow statesman approach and found himself repeatedly asking Hipkins to let him speak and to show the voters some respect by having a debate where both sides could be heard.
Both campaigns have had highs and lows with Labour’s starting slow before finally ramping up in the second half, while National went out hard and early before feeling the brakes come on in the final fortnight as the Winston Peters effect set in.
Voter turnout is going to be crucial on Saturday, and in the final push both Chrises were less focused on telling people who they should vote for and instead ramming home the importance of casting a vote full stop.