Ahu Tongariki houses the largest stone platform on Easter Island. This platform, known as an ahu, is lined up on 200 metre (650 foot) long podiums. Easter Island’s ahu were meticulously restored in the early 1990s after the island’s civil war toppled the moai and a tsunami later displaced them inland.
The area of Ahu Tongariki is situated between two extinct volcanoes, Rano Raraku and Poike on the south coast of Rapa Nui. It was once the capital centre of the Hotu Iti tribe and, according to Polynesian mythology, led by the son of the first Easter Island settler.
15 proud and distinct moai stand firmly on the ahu, with their stone backs to the Pacific Ocean, facing inward toward the mountain quarry. A 16th, travelling moai is absent, as it is showcased at exhibitions across the world, and is viewed as the protector of the 15 left behind. The moai look down at the remnants of an ancient village, where rock carvings and petroglyphs depicting sacred birdman etchings, animated marine dwellers and personified animal sketches can be found.
Walk or cycle along the pristine grounds of Ahu Tongariki. Legend has it that these living deities, worshipped by ancient tribes and powered by the magical spiritual essence of mana, walked from the quarry of their conception to their current elevated platforms, the ultimate resting place from which to protect and guide.