The New Forest Otter, Owl & Wildlife Park
For a relaxing nature based half-day out, the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park at Longdown, near Ashurst, is a great attraction and gives you the opportunity to mix with both native and non-native animals.
The established wildlife park, on the premises of the former New Forest Butterfly Farm, is a successful conservation centre that is much larger than it looks at first glance. Incidentally, July 2008 saw the opening of a new Butterfly House within the park – another reason to visit this already great attraction!
The outdoor areas of the wildlife park reach far back into the woodlands of the New Forest, and there is an excellent variety of wildlife to see. Furthermore, not all animals are caged; notably the Sika deer are free to roam around an enclosed area and mix with the visitors, as are some fallow deer and wallabies in a different enclosed area, aptly named Wallaby Wood.
The main building of the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park is a long green shed which houses several small ponds for the otters, along with a hedgehog garden, stoat and ferret pens and mouse display boxes, each one created in a way that echoes the particular animal’s natural environment.
There are many different breeds of otter at the park, not just the one native to the UK but also breeds from as far afield as Canada and Asia. These playful creatures are always entertaining to watch and always seem to be active in one area or another.
Daily feeding times for various animals, and guide talks, certainly guarantee close-up viewings, although an impromptu visit may miss these scheduled events so phoning ahead to check times is a good idea.
The two main outdoor areas are wooded enclosures where the deer and wallabies are free to mix with the public, while cages in these areas are home to a large variety of owls and other animals, such as lynx and pine martins.
At the back of Wallaby Wood you can see the huge wild boar – fortunately a double fence separates these powerful beasts from the public!
Right: Fallow deer, wallaby and wild boar are just a few of the animal breeds that can all be seen at the park, in addition to otters and owls!
Other things to see at the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park include a night room, where you can view badgers and foxes as they sleep, a bird and butterfly garden, a dragonfly pond and ferret house.
A relaxing stroll around the park can take you a couple of hours and on exiting you can browse a well stocked gift shop, or grab a bite to eat and a drink at the cafe.
All in all, The New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park is an excellent attraction within the New Forest National Park for anyone who has the slightest interest in wildlife and conservation. The hands on experience with the deer is always a hit with the kids, and adults too!
Park Visitor Information
- Spring/Summer: every day 10.00am – 5.30pm. Last entrance 4.30pm
- Autumn/Winter: every day (weekends only in January) 10.00am – dusk. Last entrance approximately 3.00pm
- Adults £9.95
- Children (3 – 16 yrs) £6.95
- Family (2+2 or 1+3) £29.50
- Seniors (over 60) £8.95
- Disabled/special needs adult £8.95; Disabled/special needs child £5.95 (Carers FREE)
Location: Deerleap Lane, Longdown, off the A35 towards Southampton from Ashurst.
Telephone: 02380 292408
Getting to The New Forest Otter, Owl & Wildlife Park
The conservation park can be found close to the north-eastern boundary of the New Forest National Park on Deerleap Lane, Longdown, approximately a mile east of Ashurst. The lane meets the A35 road at this point, the wildlife park is just over a mile along Deerleap Lane, on the left hand side.
See this area in more detail on the OS 1:25000 map (link opens a PDF map of north-eastern corner of the National Park).
GPS / SatNav information:
Lat/long: 50.886,-1.498. OS grid ref: SU353098 [How do I read a map?]