Find out more about: The New Forest Wildlife Park

May 29, 2016

There’s nothing quite like taking a trip to the New Forest Wildlife Park. It is situated in the woodland area of the New Forest National Park (interestingly, it used to be called The New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Conservation Park) and if you want to get close to animals in a more natural environment it’s the perfect place. Even more so because it’s all in the confines of the stunning New Forest which makes an incredible backdrop. No matter what age, this attraction is ideal for all children, from toddlers to teens and adults too and if you’re looking for the type of excursion which has a strong educational element this ticks that box. No matter the weather or time of year, it’s open every day except Christmas and Boxing Day. Opening time is 10.00am to 5.30pm; it closes at 4.30pm during the winter months.

If you live more than a couple of hours away from the New Forest Wildlife Park (it’s situated in Ashurst, Deerleap Lane, Southampton not far from exit 3 of the M27) you might want an overnight stay because peak times means plenty of traffic and a two hour journey can easily extend into a three and a half hour trip. With children in the car of whatever age, this is never a pleasurable experience. Luckily there are a number of inexpensive hotels close by in the New Forest, Southampton or Winchester to choose from.

It’s a good idea to set off early in order to arrive before the crowds; of course, many people have the same idea so do purchase your ticket first. You’ll find a useful discount voucher on our website here and if you choose to use it, one child goes free with a paying adult. A paying adult is just £10.95 so it’s tremendously good value with the discount.

The number of keepers available throughout the park is very impressive and all of them are armed with a huge array of knowledge to keep the children engaged. The keepers especially understand how to explain interesting facts to children and it’s wonderful to see the little ones completely mesmerised. For adults and children, it’s fascinating to hear about how animals are re-housed in the New Forest Wildlife Park, in fact many of the animals are rescued from the wild and the trained keepers build trust with the animals while rehabilitating them.

Expect to see many owls (there are 16 different varieties), otters, wolves, foxes and deer especially because the park is the leading area for the rescue of these breeds. It’s also a famous conservation area and there are breeding programmes for water voles, harvest mice and Scottish wildcats. Furthermore there are boars, badgers, wallabies, bison and more! Children (and adults) can get close up and personal with the otters and you might even get to play with them.

During your visit you will more than likely be able to walk among deer, some of them are so tame they will come right up to see what you’re doing doing but beware – as beautiful as they are with their glossy tawny coats and long, fluttering eyelashes, they like to nibble your clothes!

Do make sure you visit the butterfly garden which is a haven of peace and tranquillity and is home to a number of butterfly species. Watch your hair because they tend to swoop down and you might find a colourful friend resting on your shoulder. However, there aren’t as many butterflies during the winter. It’s worth really looking out to see if you might be lucky enough to spot the lynx as a tip, try during feeding time.

As well as seeing the animals (and playing with some of the smaller, cuter varieties) you might like to attend the educational sessions held during the day. When you’re there, the passion of the guides is obvious – they take great pride in their work and adore the animals and it gives you an insight as to how important it is to take care of the species we have in the UK and how vital the New Forest Wildlife Park is for rehabilitation and animal rescue.

In addition to the Wildlife Park, there are two large play areas including an adventure playground (one for younger children and one for older children) which are great for adults to have some well-earned R&R while the children enjoy all the facilities. There’s also a pirate boating area which is fantastic when the weather is warm.

As a final note, wear very comfortable trainers because there is a lot of walking; the wildlife park is very big. Whether you are a nature enthusiast or you want to spend a day out with the children, the National Wildlife Park in the New Forest is a very special family day out.

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