Rano Kau has a crater lake which is one of the island’s only three natural bodies of fresh water. Most of the volcano is on the coast and has been eroded back to form high sea cliffs which at one point have started to bite into the crater wall. On its northern side, the volcano slopes down to Mataveri International Airport.
Rano Kau is in the world heritage site of Rapa Nui National Park and gives its name to one of the seven sections of the park. The principal archaeological site on Rano Kau is the ruined ceremonial village of Orongo which is located at the point where the sea cliff and inner crater wall converge. One ahu with several moai was recorded on the cliffs at Rano Kau in the 1880s, but had fallen to the beach by the time of theRoutledge expedition in 1914. As well as basalt, it contains several other igneous rocks including obsidian (for which it was one of the major sources for the island’s stoneworkers) and pumice. The crater is almost a mile across and has its own micro climate. Sheltered from the winds that dry most of the rest of the island, figs and vines flourish at Rano Kau.