Wonders of the Austral Islands

View towards Avera bay, Rurutu in the Austral Islands
View towards Avera bay, Rurutu / Jonathan Burckel, / CC BY-SA 3.0

WorldBlue  Highlights

The remote Austral Islands are a part of French Polynesia. These islands are a treasure trove of exciting cultural heritage. Many monuments here are unusual – the cave settlements of Rurutu, hilltop fortresses of Rapa Iti, the tatoo workshop in Tubuai and the countless sites of legends.

Notable natural monuments here are caves – including the phantasmagoric Toarutu Cave (Rurutu).

Map with the described wonders

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WorldViolet Top 16 wonders of the Austral Islands

Geological wonders

Toarutu Cave (Mouth of Dragon)

An amazing cave with numerous columns – it resembles a mouth of a giant dragon. It formed at the times when the sea level was 10 m higher than now.

Ana Vairua’uri

An underground stream with a lake that is up to 7 m deep. In the stream are living enormous shrimps. Several sinkholes have formed along the route of the stream. A legend about an octopus who lived here and killed horses.

Taupe’e Cave (Maperevaru)

A beautiful cave with stalactites, stalagmites, gours, cave pearls, and other cave formations.

Ana Pu’uru

Cave with gours, straw stalagmites and other amazing speleothems.

Biological wonders

Mount Purau rainforest

Remnant of a unique montane rain forest with huge number of endemic species of plants (89 species) and animals.

Archaeological wonders

Ra’ivavae tiki

The only remaining tiki – sacred stone statue – in Ra’ivavae. It represents a child of Moana and Heiata – two other stone statues now in Papeeete. Mysterious, legendary stone.

Sculpture from Raivavae, now in museum, Tahiti
Haurii tatoo workshops

Unique site with different adjustments for making tattoos. Includes stone tools for making the ink, utensils for making the ink, oven. The site contains several workshops – one for making facial tattoos, one for tattoos on feet, one for tattoos for men.

Morongo Uta

Austral Islands

One of the most impressive inland fortifications in Rapa Iti, built around 1500 AD on the top of 258 m high mountain. This small island has 13 – 14 prehistoric mountaintop fortifications.

One of hilltop fortreses in Rapa Iti, Morongo Uta
Marae Hano

Large, well preserved marae, 30 by 30 m large, extended by a stone clad path towards the sea. In the centre stands 1.6 m high stone with a possible face cut in it. Several more petroglyphs.

Hatuturi fortress and other mountain fortresses of Ra’ivavae

Ancient refuges of defeated people from other parts of Polynesia. Contains terraced fields, areas laid with stones, marae.

Marae Unurau

An important, large and well preserved marae with some 30 standing stone slabs that are up to 3 m tall. A stone clad pathway leads to the sea.

Marae Pomavao

Large, interesting marae. Contains forty standing stones that are up to 1.8 m high, one is 2 m high. Interior and access road are paved with stones. In the middle once was a statue.

Anapiro Cave

One of the four ancient burial caves in Rapa Iti.

Ana Ae’o (Grotte Mitterrand)

One of the last inhabited caves in Rurutu. Rurutu island has many grottoes well suited for human habitation – it is possible that people lived even in more than 100 caves here. Caves are adorned with amazing stalactites and other cave formations.

Ana Apiti, Naairoa

An ancient shelter, located at the base of steep sea coast. Here was found large amount ot human remnants.

Ana Maniana

Legendary, elusive cave with treasures. King was hiding in this cave and kept the valuables of his family here. The cave reportedly can be found only by the use of secret words.

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