South Pacific 2015 – Easter Island

Easter Island or Rapa Nui was the port that was the highlight of the cruise for most on board, it was for me. We arrived a couple of hours earlier at Easter Island because we left Pitcairn Island early, which meant we had a bit of extra time ashore and our tour could stay a bit more time at each site. I believe that we were lucky to be able to get ashore on the day we were there as the swell did require the tenders to take it very slow whilst traveling from the ship to the dock, the entrance of which was quite small and surrounded by rocks, must have been a close call for the Captain. If we had not made it ashore here I am guessing that a large number of the guests would have made their disappointment know!!

My tour today was Easter Island Mystical Moai Statues & Highlights, this was a Regent’s Choice Tour, this one cost $109, it was worth it. Although there was meant to be only moderate walking it was a bit more physical than that, not a problem for me but was an issue for a number of the others on the tour.

500px-Easter_Island_map-en.svg

Easter Island Mystical Moai Statues & Highlights

Trace the origins of Easter Island’s mysterious moai statues by visiting the quarry were they were carved and various sites where the statues were painstakingly transported.

Depart from the pier and enjoy a short drive through Hanga Roa, the island’s sole town. Before long, you’ll arrive at Tahai, a ceremonial site with five moais that vary in scale and shape, unlike most of the moais on Easter Island. The two largest figures may represent a mother and father or symbolize different leaders of the indigenous people. Their exact meaning remains a mystery, despite the efforts of American archaeologist William Mulloy, who excavated the site and is now buried nearby.

Like most of the statues on the island, these were made at the quarry at Rano Raraku and then transported to their eventual resting place. A visit to the quarry reveals all sorts of stone-faced moais in various stages of production. Some are half carved, others are broken, and still others seem to have been abandoned in mid-transport. It’s a fascinating peek at the past.

A short drive away is Tongariki, where fifteen of the statues ended up and where they stood until 1960, when a massive tidal wave swept them hundreds of yards inland. They have since been restored to their original sites, allowing visitors to view them in their intended location.

Finally, you’ll visit Anakena Beach. It is here where the island’s first settlers are thought to have landed. Six moais, several decorated with red volcanic rock topknots, overlook this idyllic setting. You’ll have time here to capture some photos before it’s time to transfer directly back to the pier.

Please note: This tour includes nearly 2-hours of mostly moderate walking/standing. At Tahai, there will be uneven ground and dirt paths to negotiate. At Rano Raraku, there is a slope and uneven dirt paths which can be challenging. The tour is not available to wheelchair guests and those with mobility concerns are cautioned to carefully evaluate their personal level of stamina and ability. Light-weight clothing with long sleeves; sun cap; sunglasses; sunscreen; insect repellant; and flat, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Guests should bring plenty of water from the ship as none is available during the excursion. The only restroom facilities are at Anakena Beach. Several vehicles of differing sizes are used as transportation on this tour and only one guide goes with the group so there is no commentary on board the vehicles. However, at each stop, the guide will provide commentary for the entire group. Littering or touching the statues is strictly prohibited on Easter Island. The order of the sites viewed or visited may vary.

20150224-DSC08068

Our fist stop Tahai, an archaeological site that was restored in 1974 by Dr William Mulloy, who was an American Anthropologist who investigated how the Moai on Easter Island were  created, transported and then positioned on their foundations at their destination.

Moai are human figure monuments that were carved by the Rapa Nui people from rock and then transported to the various sites around the island to honor their dead chiefs. The sites where they erected the Moai were chosen due to their significance to the tribe associated.

20150224-DSC08093

On the island there are around 5000 horses roaming free. As the islanders no longer need the horses as they use cars, they just let them roam around and multiply. There are nearly as many horses as there are people on the island, there are currently approximately 6000 inhabitants.

20150224-DSC08095

20150224-DSC0810320150224-DSC08105

The local cows also wander freely around the island and are apparently no good for milking or for food due to the poor quality of the fodder on the island and because they roam around the island making them also tough and sinewy.

20150224-DSC08110

20150224-DSC08114

Our next stop was Rano Raraku, one of the quarries on the island where Moai were carved. It is estimated that 95% of the Moai were carved on-site at Rano Raraku. It was an amazing place to visit, not sure how to describe it. Moai in various states of construction all over the quarry.

One of the mysteries of Easter Island is how they transported the Moai from the quarries to their eventual resting place. A number of experiments have been conducted to work out if the Moai were transported using rollers made from the trees around the island or if they were “walked” to their destinations. “Walking” entails using ropes to rotate the Moai from onside to the next, moving forward slowly each time they rotate the Moai, like moving a refridgerator at home without wheels. Maybe both the “walking” and rolling methods were used, who knows.

20150225-DSC08254

20150225-DSC08264

Our next stop was Tongariki.

Tongariki is the site where 15 Moai were restored with the assistance of a Japanese company after a tsunami in 1960 swept the Moai a few kilometers inland. The restoration was completed in 1996. It is also the site where the largest ever Moai was erected, it weighs approximately 86 tonnes.

20150225-DSC08351

 The last stop was Anakena, the site where the first settlers on the island landed. Anakena was the landing site of Hotu Matu’a, a Polynesian chief who led a two-canoe settlement party here and founded the first settlement on Rapa NuiAnakena is also one of two decent beaches on the island as well as the home of two more ahus.

20150225-DSC08405

After Anakena it was time to head back to the dock and then the ship. By arriving early we had more time at each site, if we had arrived on time the tour would have been rushed. The tour was excellent and I would recommend  it to anyone who wanted to see the incredible sites of the island.

20150225-DSC08452

The view of Ahu Tahai from the ship

20150225-DSC08453-2

Considering how short our stay on the island was, I did get to see quite a bit of the place, but still did not get to see the whole place. Would have liked to have seen some of the sites associated with and learned about the Birdman Cult also to have seen the third longest runway in the world. Easter Island Mataveri International Airport was extended to be able to be used as an abort landing site for the Space Shuttle, it was never used, but the Concorde did land there 3 times.

Easter Island is an incredible place and should be on everyone’s bucket list, I hope I get the chance to return again one day and spend more time. Next port Lima (after 4 days at sea).

Let me know what you think of the new format.

2 thoughts on “South Pacific 2015 – Easter Island

  • April 15, 2015 at 10:14 pm
    Permalink

    What does the symmetrical stones placed in front of the Moai represent? Lucas

    Reply
    • April 15, 2015 at 10:21 pm
      Permalink

      I think that they are called Ahu and they are the platforms that Moai are mounted on, giving the statue a stable flat base.

      Reply

Hiya, please leave comment

Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)

%d bloggers like this: