Ahu Te Peu, a place of legend
Ahu Te Peu is an important site located on the northwest coast of the island which presents a great archaeological and historical value. The ruins found here have remained virtually intact since the ancient inhabitants left the place. This fact offers a great opportunity for scientists to carry out studies and draw conclusions from the old way of life of rapanui.
Some elements of an ancient village
In Ahu Te Peu the ruins are found of what was once a large village that stretched from the present coastal path to the edge of the cliff. In that strip, of about two hundred meters of width, appear several typical constructions that comprised of the majority of the old settlements islanders.
If you descend from the small parking lot, where the sign indicates the place, you can see several manavai. These circular stone structures were used to grow different plants sheltered from the winds and thus maintain humidity. It is believed that this method of cultivation is inspired by observing the ecosystem that is created in the craters of volcanoes like Rano Kau or Rano Raraku, in which the vegetation abounds.
Near the manavai stands a rectangular block of stones with a small opening. It is a hare moa or chicken coop. Another important construction in the villages that served to enclose at night the precious birds, introducing them through its single hole. This avoided the theft of one of the main ingredients of the diet and supply of feathers used in the attire.
The house of a king of legend
Continuing along on the right, in the direction of the sea, you can appreciate the foundations of several hare paenga or boat houses, named because their long elliptical plant resembles that of a boat. Here is the largest boat house on the island, with a length of 43 meters and some relate it with the so-called Tore Tahuna, home of the famous Ariki Tu’u Ko Ihu.
Ariki Tu’u Ko Ihu is a very important person in the oral tradition of the island, since besides being married with Ava Rei Pua, the sister of the first king Hotu Matu’a, carried out several surprising episodes collected in several legends. The most famous is the one that tells that after the Ariki Tu’u Ko Ihu observed strange spirits in several places of the island, returned to his house where he carved in wood their bodies, giving rise to one of the most famous and representative figures of Rapa Nui, the Moai Kava Kava.
A great megalithic work
In front of the cliff the remains of two ahu or platforms where several moai stood are found. The structures are quite deteriorated and several broken statues with half-buried heads are observed.
These abandoned images along with the solitude of the place, interrupted only by the trot of some wild horses, convey the adventure feeling of being before the vestiges of an old lost civilization.
The back of the platform on the right presents an imposing wall with enormous blocks of stone assembled with mastery. This megalithic work is reminiscent of the technique used on the famous wall of Vinapu, but without achieving the same perfection.
As part of the platforms, there are several stones with holes that belonged to the foundations of old boat-houses, and which were reused as building material. Here there also are several demolished face down moai bodies.
The tradition tells that shortly after his death, King Hotu Matu’a was transferred and buried in Akahanga (where it is currently the ahu Akahanga). His sister Ava Rei Pua, wife of the mentioned Ariki Tu’u Ko Ihu, was buried in Te Peu, its place of residence.
Recent research has established an astronomical and geometric relationship between these two sites. The two sites where both siblings of royal origin were buried are located at the ends of an axis between the dawn of the summer solstice and the dusk of the winter solstice, symbolically relating their resting place to the annual solar cycle.
It has been proven that when watching the sunset of the winter solstice from Akahanga, located on the southeast coast of the island, the last ray of sun is set in the direction of Te Peu, where tradition points to the tomb of Ava Rei Pua. In the same way, from Te Peu to the northwest of the island, it is possible to see the sun rising in the direction of Akahanga, the tomb of King Hotu Matu’a, at the dawn of the summer solstice.
Perhaps, this fact is only a simple geographical coincidence. Although seen from a more mystical and sentimental point of view, it may show how the ancient rapanui used their knowledge of geometry and astronomy to symbolically unite the last abode of two such transcendental brothers in the history of the island.
Starting point of the north coast
In addition to its great historical importance, Ahu Te Peu symbolizes the gateway to the island’s untamed northern coast, a solitary area, which remains almost untouched since it is hardly visited by tourists. The tour runs along the lower slopes of the Terevaka volcano, passes through Hanga Oteo to the north and ends at Anakena beach after more than 6 long hours of hiking. Many remains of ahu, moai, caves and petroglyphs can be seen, but since there is practically no road and the signaling of these landmarks is null, it is possible that many of them are overlooked. So it is advisable to carry out this interesting adventure accompanied by a guide.
How to get to the Ahu Tepeu
Ahu Te Peu is located on the road that borders the north coast, one kilometer north of Ana Te Pora, and another kilometer to the northwest of Ana Te Pahu, the bananas cave.
You can only get there by walking or cycling on the road that starts at Ahu Akivi and which is part of the circuit called Te Ana or the caves that includes the visit to Ana Te Pahu, Ana Te Pora and Ana Kakenga.
Another option is to take the trail that starts at Ahu Tahai and passes through Hanga Kio’e. The route, which has an approximate length of 6 km and a duration of one and a quarter hours, allows to enjoy the sea breeze and the beautiful views of the cliffs of the coast.
In any case, it is necessary to present the National Park ticket at the checkpoints located at the starting points of both routes.