We started the day early with a taxi ride to Ahu Akivi for our visit to see the Moai statues in all their glory, and what a first impression they made standing on a raised rock platform called an Ahu, high above the ground. The statues at Ahu Akivi look out over the Pacific Ocean and are unique, as they are the only statues on the island that face outwards towards the sea. The rest have their backs to the ocean and it’s not known why, but the common belief is the Moia were placed to watch over the villages, most of which were inland.
It was amazing watching the sun rising up behind the Moai, light streaming through the statues as they looked down upon us.
From here we’d decided to do the walk up to the highest point of the island, the volcano site of Maunga Tere Vake, a 2 hour round trip from Ahu Akivi. It was a tough hike, with little or no shade, but it was a beautiful walk. Craig later described it as looking like the Windows start up screen and it’s the perfect description. There were gentle green rolling hills in all directions, with a perfect blue sky and puffy clouds above (and the occasional wild horse along the way).
We were greeted by more wild horses grazing when we reached the highest point, who weren’t at all bothered by our presence. We looked out in all directions to see the rolling hills of the island and the surrounding ocean. While not quite the 360 degree views we were promised, it was a beautiful way to understand the layout of the island.
We set off back down the hillside, stopping for another quick visit at Ahu Akivi, before starting the long walk back to town along the north west coast trail of the island.
The walk took in the cave sites of Ana Te Pahu, Ahu Tepeu and Ana Kakenga. The weather had also decided to take a turn for the worse, and there was now a big black cloud just behind us, so we were against the clock heading back into Hanga Roa, hoping to avoid the rains.
Apart from the caves and the stunning coastline, we didn’t see much else on this walk, unless you count the number of recently dead, large animals we came across on the side of the road, along with the scattered bones and skulls of those that had gone before. The smell was indescribably bad, but it was confronting and also interesting to see the animals in their varying states of decomposition. I can only hope they had peaceful deaths…
It was a long walk and our feet were aching, but we finally made it to the last site of the day, the Tahai Moai site just outside of town. The Tahai Moai site is spread over three platforms, with seven statues in various conditions.
It’s impossible not to be struck by the size of the Moai as you stand beneath them. You can’t help but wonder how they managed to get the Moai to the edge of the sea, from the quarry on the other side of the island. Many theories exist, but no one knows for sure.