Chickens wandered across the road, and now and then a car whizzed by.

This is Wallabies HQ, the Waiheke Island hideaway where the Australians are trying to plot the downfall of the All Blacks.

The Waiheke Island Resort is an unusual location by today's professional rugby standards, by All Blacks standards that is.

It is a long time indeed since the world champions stayed at the old Poenamo Hotel, opposite Onewa Domain on the North Shore, where they were based for the 1987 World Cup.


The All Blacks stay in big city high-rise hotels nowadays. The Wallabies do things a little different now and then, thus the 40-minute ferry ride to a new base.

There's a great view, just a few flights of stairs, a moderate sized pool and a welcoming relaxed atmosphere. Players head to the training ground in mini vans.

"We often stay at places like this, (coach) Michael Cheika likes to mix things up," a team official said.

Outside back Dane Haylett-Petty echoed that, saying: "We do this quite a bit, change up the locations. For instance we stayed in the Hunter Valley last year."

Whereas the All Blacks are always a main city drawcard, the Wallabies are more used to staying off the beaten track.

Haylett-Petty did remark that the view from the Waiheke Island Resort was "pretty beautiful".

It sure is, the sea being framed by a small valley.

The Wallabies will train at the Onetangi sports ground and when officials went to check out the venue they were a bit surprised to find a rescue helicopter landing on the adjacent heli-pad.

It was no time to joke about the health of the Wallabies, who crashed in the second half in Sydney on Saturday night, and haven't won at Eden Park in decades.

As for sightseeing, the team had only just arrived but we heard the players often preferred to rest up and watch Netflix.

Waiheke local Justin van Lunenburg reckoned the island was the perfect retreat for the wounded Wallabies.

"They'll be nursing a few bruises and trying to work out where it all went wrong," he said.

But the islanders were hardly star struck and others rattled off the names of famous visitors such as the late rugby legend Jonah Lomu and world famous chef Gordon Ramsay.

"We get lots of stars here for the vineyards," said Marco Canestri.

"This might be our first test rugby team but the Warriors and Blues have often come over."

The Warriors and Blues may not be the best of footy omens, but we shall see.

The Wallabies shift to a central Auckland hotel on Friday.