When you arrive at Tongariki, you will be welcomed by a single Moai. It’s the traveling Moai, who already visited Japan before returning to Easter Island. Behind it you can already see the big 15 Moais.
Ahu Tongariki is the ultimate place for the sunrise, because in the morning the sky turns red behind the Moais. In my opinion, this Ahu is the most impressive platform on Rapa Nui. The number of 15 Moais and its size makes it extra special.
In contrast to Tahai, the place for the sunset, which is within walking distance from the city, you need a vehicle to go here in the early morning. And even if the island is not very large, it takes a while. Start early enough to not miss the sunrise (at the latest 30 minutes before). While the other places of the National Park open at 9:30, you can come here for sunrise. Since I’m not an early bird, I had asked before to be sure that its open, because at the entrance still 9:30 – 17:30 is written. But I have to admit, it is definitely worth getting up early. You should definitely plan at least 1x for sunrise. Ahu Tongariki was well-attended for the early morning time, probably many have taken advantage of their jet lag.
As soon as the sunrise is over, the place clears up quite quickly. I stayed a bit longer, walked behind the Moais and then took a few fun photos. Photos like “The 16 Moais”.
Come again to Tongariki in the afternoon or early evening, because then the different faces of the 15 Moais are illuminated from the sun. Its kind of a different picture then.
The Ahu Tongariki is relatively new in its present form. It was rebuilt between 1994 and 1996 with the help of a Japanese crane, which was brought to the island. Previously, as everywhere, the Moais were overturned. However, this coastal side was hit by a tsunami in 1960, which washed the Moais partly 100 meters further. After the restoration of the Ahus, some improvements were made in 2003-2006 protected the Moais better against erosion.