From the Moai quarry on Rano Raraku, we went down the mountain 1km away to the awesome Ahu Tongariki, the site of the spectacular 15-moai which was recently restored in the 1990s.

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Ahu Tongariki was the main centre and capital of the Hotu Iti, the eastern confederation of the Rapanui.

Ahu Tongariki was substantially restored in the 1990s by a multidisciplinary team headed by archaeologists, in a five year project carried out under an official agreement of the Chilean Government, the University of Chile, and a group of Japanese.


When we got to Tongariki, there were already quite a number of visitors, but they were on their way out.

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By the entrance of Tangariki from the parking lot there is this one small moai which is called “The Ambassador” as this guy was able to make it to Japan for an exhibit after Tongariki’s resortation. It was returned soon after and placed on this spot to greet visitors.

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This ahu, due to the 15 enormous moai is simply spectacular! (I seem to be using the word awesome too much lately)

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When I posted the photos on Facebook, many people asked about the second from the leftmost moai with funky hat. Sometimes reffered to as “red hats”, that is actually called a “Pukao” as a representation of a topknot. These pukao were made from material from yet another location on the island (more on this in a later post).

The pukao are actually just placed on top of the moai heads and made to balance there. At first I thought there was a hole on which the top of the head would fit. apparently not.

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In front of the group of moai, a number of the pukao were displayed. They were either damaged, or the top of the moai were damaged or eroded so they could be made to balance on top of the heads anymore. Though it does look funny that of the 15 moai, only one has a pukao.

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The 15 sentinels. Impressive.

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To give it some scale so show how enormous they are.

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Standing in front of these giants, it was sure hard to get everyone in the frame… even with a wide angle lens.

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So… I moved back…. way back.

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One of the moai with a broken neck with Rano Raraku in the background. Poor guy.

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And of course… as with each ahu on the island. Reminders not to climb on the moai.

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I tried some planking next to the broken moai to show some scale. Though this moai is not as massive as the guys in the background. You can see some people in the background between the 10th and 11th moai to give it some scale.

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During the final photo ops, Matti thought it would be cool for me to stand next to the moai.

The picture makes it seem that the statues are “people height.”

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A view from behind the ahu.

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And at the back… more “parts” of older moai recycled for the ahu.

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As we left Ahu Tongkari on the other side… a fe last shots from a distance.

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Next stop. Ahu Te Pito Kura… the locaton of the largest moai to be transported from Rano Raraku to an ahu.