Explore The Mysteries Of The Easter Island
Easter Island, also known as Rapa Nui, is a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its hundreds of gigantic moai statues scattered all over the island. Check out the following places to explore the mysteries of Easter Island.
Known as ‘the nursery,’ the volcano of Rano Raraku, about 18km from Hanga Roa, is the quarry for the hard tuff from which the moai were cut. You’ll feel as though you’re stepping back into early Polynesian times, wandering among dozens of moai in all stages of progress studded on the southern slopes of the volcano. At the top, the 360-degree view is truly awesome. Within the crater are a small, glistening lake and about 20 standing moai.
On the southeastern slope of the mountain, look for the unique, kneeling Moai Tukuturi; it has a full body squatting on its heels, with its forearms and hands resting on its thighs.
The monumental Ahu Tongariki has plenty to set your camera’s flash popping. With 15 imposing statues, it is the largest ahu ever built. The statues gaze over a large, level village site, with ruined remnants scattered about and some petroglyphs nearby; some figures include a turtle with a human face, a tuna fish and a birdman motif.
The site was restored by a Japanese team between 1992 and 1996. A 1960 tsunami had flattened the statues and scattered several topknots far inland. Only one topknot has been returned to its place atop a moai.
Beach bums in search of a place to wallow will love this postcard-perfect, white-sand beach. It also forms a lovely backdrop for Ahu Nau Nau, which comprises seven moai, some with topknots. On a rise south of the beach stands Ahu Ature Huki and its lone moai, which was re-erected by Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl with the help of a dozen islanders in 1956. Facilities include public toilets as well as food and souvenir stalls.
Orongo Ceremonial Village
Nearly covered in a bog of floating totora reeds, the crater lake of Rano Kau resembles a giant witch’s cauldron and is a wild greenhouse of endemic biodiversity. Perched 300m above, on the edge of the crater wall on one side and abutting a vertical drop plunging down to the cobalt-blue ocean on the other side, Orongo Ceremonial Village boasts one of the South Pacific’s most dramatic landscapes. It overlooks several small motu (offshore islands), including Motu Nui, Motu Iti and Motu Kao Kao.
Built into the side of the slope, the houses have walls of horizontally overlapping stone slabs, with an earth-covered arched roof of similar materials, making them appear partly subterranean. Orongo was the focus of an island-wide ‘birdman cult’ linked to the God Make in the 18th and 19th centuries. Birdman petroglyphs are visible on a cluster of boulders between the cliff top and the edge of the crater. Orongo is either a steepest climb or a short scenic drive 4km from the centre of town.
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