Panto Track - Huia (West)
Walk status: On-lead
Somehow I have a knack for picking the worst walks to do after some rain. I don't know why I do it to myself, but here we are again!
The Panto Track is located off Huia Road, and its best to input 800-818 Huia Road into Google Maps to find it. If you can't use Google Maps, the entrance is located shortly after Pine Ave on the right hand side, if you get to Cornwallis Road then you've gone past it. There is a small area of parking off Huia Road but only suitable for 3-4 cars.
From this entrance you have access to Panto Track, Parau Track and Farley Track. These tracks all interconnect so its possible to do a loop but you would need to be prepared to do some long distances to make a loop. The link to the council website below provides more detail on all of these tracks and the distances. Note that some tracks are closed at times so the council website will advise you of this also. Farley was closed at the time we walked Panto.
Panto was set to take us 1.25mins to reach the intersection of Parau Track. However as this was Georges first walk after having surgery earlier in the week, and the weather wasn't the best, I decided we would follow the track for 30mins and then turn around to make the full walk an hour all up. This walk is on-lead and with baiting in the area, its wise to adhere to that rule.
The start of the Panto track greets you with a hill, and for about the next 15 minutes or so you're climbing. You have to expect anything in the Waikateres is going to involve a climb, but this wasn't a casual walk. The state of the track after the rain meant it was a very slow climb trying to navigate some very slippery areas. I've come to realise that for the first 5 minutes of walks like this that im trying to keep my feet dry and clean, then you slowly start to give up and just think bugger it, and soon enough you're walking in full mud puddles with wet shoes. You've got to be prepared for that on this walk, or get yourself a decent pair of hiking boots which I really need to do!
The track does even out to a flat walk after a while, and is quite enjoyable walking through the bush. You get small glimpses across the valley and also across to the Manukau Harbour, but only walking for 30mins we didn't find any clearings for photo opportunities. Knowing my luck there was probably one just another 2 minutes up the track! There are a couple of small bridges through the flat areas, fine for people to walk on although they were quite slippery, but George struggled as his feet kept falling through the gaps. He could have walked to the side of the bridge, but even though I tried to show him the alternative he was determined to walk the bridge with me.
At the 30min mark we turned around to start heading home, and this is where you start to realise downhill is not always the easier option. The track was so slippery that going downhill ended up being more of a nightmare than the initial climb was. After slip sliding around I had to take George off the lead, it was just proving too hard for me to walk at his pace and try and navigate myself down the hill. In the end I grabbed a broken branch and used it as a walking stick to try and steady myself. This is definitely not a walk you want to do if you expect the track to be muddy. It makes it a very slow walk back, and is quite hard going on the knees. However in Summer, or after a few good days of warm weather this would be a really nice walk, if you don't mind the hill.
Location: 800-818 Huia Road, Huia
Carparking is very limited, approx 3-4 cars can fit in the layby. There is no suitable road parking here as its positioned on a blind corner and the road is narrow.
Things to know:
There are no toilets here
Tracks may be closed so check the council website for updates: http://regionalparks.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/huia/track/Panto%20Track
See tab on council website for Other Tracks in this area
Kakamatua Inlet is just down the hill from this track, so you can team up the walk with a swim at the dog friendly beach if you like