Shades of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup have returned to Auckland in the colours of red and white.

Mate Ma'a Tonga's squad returned to New Zealand last night ahead of their clash against the Kangaroos at Mt Smart Stadium next weekend.

While the match is still more than a week away, Tongan flags have been spotted in masses - with the buzz around the team's semifinal finish at last year's World Cup still alive and well.

Ticket sales for this Saturday's triple-header transtasman test against Australia at Mt Smart Stadium are sluggish, while Tonga are set to play in front of a sell-out crowd in next week's clash against the Kangaroos.