Rano Raraku - Moai Factory
Easter Island - Rapa Nui
Rano Raruku is a volcano that is part of Easter Island’s National Park. This area, considered a World Heritage site since 1996, was the quarry that supplied the stone for almost all of the Moai on the island for over 500 years.
Rano Raruku is commonly known as the “Moai Factory” as you can see the different stages of how the Moai were carved directly out of the rock. There are 397 moai in this area, some half buried, some just abandoned over time. That’s about 45% of all the Moai ever created.
The red stone representing the topknot (no, it isn’t a hat, it was hair) that was placed on top of some of the Moai came from another area of the island called Puna Pau.
Tour of Rano Raraku
After going through the main entrance of the park you immediately see to you left a low stone building. This is a Hare Moa or Chicken house.
Just after you have been past the Hare Moa you will come to a fork in the path. The path to the left will take you to the Rano Raraku crater lake and to the right you will be taken to the main quarry where all the moai are. If you are short on time, I recommend you just take the right path to visit the “Moai factory”.
After about a 5-minute walk you will be amongst the first moai. Notice the tall thin moai (photo above) to the right of the path.
As you continue, just a little after the “thin moai” you will see a path leading to a lookout point to the right (as seen in the photo above). There are benches here where Tour guides sometimes stop to give more information about the history of moai making. It’s also a brief rest before you start heading up the hill.
Just after the lookout/rest point, you come across the most famous (and most photographed) moai on the island (see the photo below)
These two moai have appeared in almost every guidebook to Easter Island, even being on the cover of a Lonely Planet one.
Once past these two famous guys you will start to walk up a hill to see how the moai were carved directly out of the volcanic rock.
The Largest Moai
What was going to be the largest Moai ever carved can still be found at Rano Raruku at the top of the trail that leads up the hill. It was going to be twice the size of any other completed Moai being 21.6m (72 feet) in height and weighing approximately 270 tonnes. It was never completed and is still “attached” to the rock of the volcanic crater. You can see part of it in the mid-right section of the photo above.
Below you have a closer view of the work they were performing and which from one day to the next, was left abandoned.
Next you will pass the largest moai and then come to these two moai which themselves were pretty big. Can you see them both?
Walking down the slope after seeing these large moai, you will encounter a much smaller moai called Tukuturi that is completely
different from all the other ones you will find anywhere else on the island. Find out why here:
From this point look towards the Poike Volcano (behind Tukuturi) and down to the coastline where you will see the famous Ahu Tongariki with its 15 moai in the distance.
From here you will start heading back along the base of the volcano where you will see a variety of half-buried Moai either leaning in one direction or completely fallen over. It was thought that these moai were abandoned due to them not being up to the high standards required to appease the gods.
NOTE: Rob W. and Ange P. spent a week on Easter Island at the end of January 2013 to produce most of the information, photos and videos we have here.
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