When we think of Tahiti, we often imagine the white sand beaches (which are black for the most part), the turquoise blue lagoon and perhaps the tops of the green mountains. But between the mountains and the sea are little treasures full of stories and generous vegetation: the valleys of Tahiti. True places of walks in the bowels of the island, it is by going up its rivers that we attend the spectacles that nature offers us such as the impressive waterfalls where the old legends remain.
Places for nature walks in the middle of abundant vegetation
The island of Tahiti has many valleys, each more mystical than the other, including that of Tipaerui which is one of the best known. Located close to the city center, it deserves to be known by tourists passing through Papeete who tend to forget it, as well as locals because this wonderful valley is hidden by the industrial zone. But if one ventures beyond, one discovers a walk leading to a magnificent waterfall among a nature of a bright green. The latter is preserved by an association on site which plants a multitude of fruit trees. During your walk, be sure to bring essential foods such as rice or tin cans to barter them with the people of the association for their exotic fruits! You can also ask them to help them plant a tree, they will be happy to teach you and have an extra hand to help preserve their fenua (Polynesian soil). The association also recreates the ceremonies of yesteryear when students come with their school to discover the valley. The name Tipaerui means "arrived in the evening" to designate the inhabitants of the peninsula who traveled to Tipaerui by canoe, leaving in the morning to arrive in the evening.
We also have the valley of the commune of Papenoo on the east coast, known for its waves by both beginners and experienced surfers. For a while, it bore the name of Te Mano Rahi, which means "the 10 warriors" because the valley was the permanent home of the great Tahitian chiefdoms for several centuries. Previously it was also called Ha'apai'ano'o meaning "the gathering of all the waters". Indeed its main river receives a minimum of 000 tributaries which makes it a valley with abundant lush vegetation passing through banana trees, mango trees, guava trees, mape and bamboo forest. Among all this greenery there is also a rich fauna such as wild pigs and goats, dozens of varieties of birds, goats and eels in the waterways... The rivers of the Papenoo valley are ideal for swimming. rejuvenating. In the soft and fresh water, the current of the river and its eddies make it an authentic thalasso. If we continue the 35x4 ride deeper in the valley, we will find ourselves in the heart of the island between Papenoo and the Mataiea valley, in what is called the Relais de la Maroto in the center of the crater of Tahiti. The adventure is all the more pleasant with a guide who will tell you the legends of the valley, the history of the tiki village and the maraes and will make you discover Lake Vaihiria, a magnificent basin in the middle of the island.
The valleys as witnesses of the life of Polynesian ancestors
The valleys are also an ancient place of life and worship filled with archaeological remains. There are maraes, a sacred place dedicated to social, political and religious activities in the past, which appear as stone platforms like open-air temples. They are often surrounded by aito, plants that ward off evil spirits. Rituals, sacrifices, weddings and meetings took place there among others. We can attend reconstructions of ceremonies in the commune of Paea on the marae of Arahurahu during which we can feel the mana, this Polynesian energy. Or in the valley of Hamuta in Pirae, on the marae Tupuhaea. The two Polynesian deities often invoked are Ruahatutinirau, the god of the ocean and To'ahitimatanui the god of vegetation. The purpose of these ceremonies is generally to tell the people to respect their land, the plant world that surrounds them.
The Nahoata Valley in Pirae tells the legend of the creation of the game of Hiri, which consists of ricocheting stones on the'water and then jumping in the circles created by the ripples of the'water. It is the lovely Tautiti Vahine who bathed in the water with her friends to play. She grew up in this valley and was considered the most beautiful of girls. She was going to contemplate herself not far from there in the mud basin of Hamuta, formerly called Hamure which means “to get bogged down in the mud”, and her beauty stood out like a brilliance even through the murky water. Nahoata meanwhile means the clouds that line up above the mountain (naho means “to line up” and ata “clouds”). It is in this valley that the July festivities used to take place: the Tiurai festivals which extended over several days with games and competitions, such as mountainside running. Fewer people lived there than today, making the valley the perfect place to celebrate Polynesian culture because it was teeming with food: taro, fe'i, fruit, prawns in the river and wild pigs.