Yes, that is the outline of our Hawaiian Islands, but upside-down… Why? That spot on earth is exactly opposite our island home!
While Hōkūle‘a lay at anchor in Maputo, Mozambique waiting out a storm, she was actually at the closest point in her voyage to Hawai‘i’s antipode. This means that our wa‘a and her crew were as far away from Hawai‘i as they could be on this Worldwide Voyage (and still be on water) – every other port is actually geographically closer to the islands in one direction or another!
The antipode of a location is where you would find yourself if you dug “straight down” through the center of the Earth from where you are standing, and came out the other side. That would be a tunnel nearly 12,700 km (around 7,900 miles) long! If you were to drive a truck through that imaginary tunnel at 60 mph, it would take almost a week of driving, non-stop.
Dr. Rhett Butler, director of the Hawai‘i Institute of Geophysics & Planetology at the University of Hawaiʻi, has studied seismic waves from earthquakes measured from the antipode of the quake’s epicenter as a way to learn more about the earth’s core. “At the antipode of a seismic event, the earth acts something like a huge lens, encompassing vibrations from all directions at once,” he says. “As the seismic waves pass through the center of the planet, it gives us a kind of sample of the core that allows us to see a lot more about what’s there.”
Hawaiʻi’s antipode (the pronunciation rhymes with “aunty toad”) lies in the middle of the massive Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Botswana, about 700 miles from where Hōkūle‘a is right now, and a world away from Hawai‘i both literally and figuratively. The CKGR is the largest reserve in South Africa, and the second largest wildlife reserve in the world. The reserve was originally established as a place for the San (the indigenous hunter-gatherers of South Africa) as a sanctuary where they could live and practice traditional hunting and gathering.