There are about 300 ahu (ceremonial platforms), along with a variety of archaeological sites that were used for rituals, agriculture, food or housing purposes. These are among the main archaeological sites protected by the park, besides the known statues or moai. There have been nearly 900 moai accounted for that are spread across different parts of the island. The National Park was created in 1935, when two legal bodies (Supreme Decree No. 103 of January 16 and Decree No. 4536 of July 23) designated the island as a National Park, Wildlife Protected Area and a Historic Monument. However, this designation had a rather formal value, as for the first initial years there was no local administration organized to effectively protect the monuments and the Park as a whole.
In 1966, through the Supreme Decree No. 148 of the Ministry of Agriculture the National Park for Easter Island Tourism was created. The arrival of continental public bodies then helped to establish the Livestock and Agricultural Service (under the Ministry of Agriculture). Through its forestry division it organized its first administrators and local staff. During this period the reforestation of eroded areas was brought into primary focus. Within the next decade, after some perimeter and legal changes, the park began to be administered by the National Forestry Corporation (http://www.conaf.cl), an entity created in 1972 which is in charge of the National System of Wild Protected Areas of Chile.
With a current area of ,859 hectares, the Rapa Nui National Park today covers about 40% of the island's surface. Under the administration of CONAF, the Park reoriented its mission to the archaeological protection and proper management of natural resources, facilitating its use for scientific, recreational and tourism purposes. In recent decades, however, the Ministry of National Heritage has had to modify the parks boundaries several times, to allocate sectors to the population and to reverse land for residential or agricultural use, while other delicate areas have been incorporated, like the coastal strip of the Poike peninsula and the Rano Aroi sector. In the early 1990s, the Chilean Government requested that the Rapa Nui National Park was added to the List of Cultural Heritage Sites of UNESCO, which materialized in 1995, in the category of cultural property.
The archaeological site is situated very close to the town and includes all the structures used in an ancient village (boat houses, ceremonial platforms, stone henhouses, caves) and includes 3 ahu: Tahai, Vai Uri and Ko te Riku. The eyes placed on the moai are not the original eyes and neither is the pukao, the topknot. This site is a beautiful place to spend the morning and has a great view of the sunset.
Located on the south west tip of the island, this site was restored in the sixties and contains 53 houses that overlook the cliff which is 300m above sea level. Numerous petroglyphs "tangata manu" can be seen at the ceremonial center.
This complex has an ahu with a rear wall whose slabs have been perfectly fitted into place and it is a great example of extraordinary stonemasonry, it is very similar to the Inca walls of Cuzco in Peru but the similarities end there.
• Te Pahu
A group of lava tubes are situated at the foot of Terevaka where caves and manavai can be found. There are many different varieties of plants such as bananas, avocados and mahute. Many caves will bring you to openings in the cliff face that overlook the sea. The best known is Ana Kakenga which is also known as "the cave of the two windows" it is tricky to access but it will give you an amazing view from the cliff face to the crashing waves below.
• Ahu Akivi
Ahu Akivi is the archaeological center of the Roiho area. It was the first site that was renovated by scientists in the 1960s. It is a ceremonial center and is an interesting site not only for its location but also because of the legend surrounding its 7 moai. It is famous for its position as it is located inland, also its orientation puts it in line facing the equinox and it also faces the sea in the distance.
• Ana Kai Tangata
Located on the cliffs to the south of the village in the area called Mataveri lies Ana Kai Tangata. It is a spacious cavern that contains cave paintings with manu (bird) motifs on the roof slabs.
• Puna Pau
Located to the east of Hanga Roa, this is where the quarry for the pukao can be found. The reddish material was used to make the pukao (topknot) that crowned the heads of the moai.
• Rano Raraku
It is known as the moai quarry. You can see almost 400 statues at the volcano within different stages of completion. You can see how the statue was carved directly out of the side of the volcano before it was separated from it. They were then held in place with rocks, ropes or some tree trunks if necessary. The moai slid slowly down into a trench that had been dug out at its base allowing it to stand. Several techniques were used but, according to oral tradition, the moai walked to their ahu; visual tests help to test this technique. The islanders saw this type of transportation as a revival of the dead as the moai would "happily arrive to his final destination in his village."
It is the largest monument on the island with 15 Moai. The tallest moai on the ahu weighs 88 tons and is more than 9m high. This ahu was restored from 1992 to 1996, thanks to the Japanese crane company "Tadano".
Ahu Nau Nau has moai that have been kept in very good condition; it is located at Anakena, the site of the royal "miru" tribe. This ahu was damaged recently by a tourist who was convicted and severely fined. On the right hand side of Anakena, the moai of ahu ATURE HUKI was reerected in 1956 within 18 days thanks to 12 rapanui men who used only stones, ropes and about four levers with an overall weight of about 30tons.
• Ahu Huri a Urenga
Located on the road out of Hanga Roa, this ahu was restored and is different to other ahu as its orientation falls in line with the winter solstice. It also has 4 hands carved into it that has led to many different interpretations.
• LOS MOTUS (islEts)
You can find several islets near the coast in front of Orongo, they are called Motu Nui, Motu Iti and Motu Kao Kao. They are part of the reserve and have been named a protected area that is not accessible to tourists. These islets were formally the scene of the bird man competitions where they tangata manu would search for the sacred ceremonial egg.
There are also more islets along other parts of the coast, Motu Tautara, Motu Marotiri.
• SOUTH COAST
The south coast extends over a length of 16km and many archaeological remains can be found scattered along the coast between Rano Kau and the Poike base. There are approximately 92 important archaeological sites along this coastal section, including Hare Paenga (boat house), Hare Moa (stone henhouse), Moai, religious and funerary monuments, etc. Throughout this part of the island there is evidence of an intense social and religious life.
• AHU HEKI’I TE PITO KURA
They are two separate archaeological monuments. The ahu is the largest and Te Pito Kura (the navel of the world) has a perfectly round stone.