The New Forest is over 550 square kilometres of beautiful woodland situated on the south coast between Southampton and Bournemouth. It is home to an abundance of wildlife and contains a wide range of landmarks and activities.
New Forest Park
New Forest National Park
The stunning area of farmland, heathland and coastline in the New Forest is a protected national park. With such a vast area to maintain, you would be forgiven for wondering how on earth they keep it in such pristine condition. Luckily, there are over 5,000 free-roaming New Forest ponies and cows which graze on the land and help to keep it in check.
Maintenance isn’t the only benefit of their grazing, though, as it is said to have a positive impact on the ecosystem of the New Forest. For example, the southern damselfly uses the ponies’ hoofprints in which to lay its eggs. If you choose to visit the New Forest National Park during your stay, you are bound to see lots of animals, including the ponies, roaming freely.
Besides seeing the ponies and other wildlife, there is plenty more for you to do at New Forest National Park. Keen walkers will enjoy the choice of 27 stunning walks through the area, whereas cyclists may prefer the 100 miles of way-marked cycle trails. The New Forest also has a plethora of historic houses and gardens dating back to the Elizabethan era, as well as a collection of interesting museums and galleries, such as the National Motor Museum.
New Forest Wildlife Park
Being amongst the New Forest’s animals in their natural habitat is a special experience. However, for less than £12, you can pay a visit to the New Forest Wildlife Park, where you will catch a glimpse of some rarer, sometimes endangered, species in their natural environment.
The park started as a butterfly centre, and over the years has grown to become one of the best wildlife parks in the country, where conservation programmes help rare and endangered species to breed, injured animals to be cared for and rescued animals to find sanctuary.
On a typical visit, you could see a variety of species ranging from hedgehogs and otters to lynx and grey wolves. The expert staff at the park also host multiple talks and feeding sessions throughout the day, so if you wish to learn more about a particular animal, then be sure to attend one.
The park is located on Deerleap Lane near Colbury, which is just a short drive into the New Forest if you are travelling from Southampton.