Three Chinese students saw more of New Zealand than they bargained for - ending up in Tauranga instead of their planned destination of the Waitomo Caves.

The trio booked return bus tickets from Auckland with ManaBus and Nakedbus for a Queen's Birthday outing to the Waitomo Caves.

But their journey instead took them from Manukau to Tauranga - 114.6km away from the Waikato tourist hotspot - after they didn't realise they had to switch buses at Hamilton.

One of the trio, a student who wanted to be referred to only as Emma, said there was no warning on the booking website that they needed to change buses at Hamilton for the 71.4km leg of the trip to the Waitomo Caves.

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But the required switch was referred to in an email attachment sent to the women.

The group realised they had gone the wrong way when they arrived in Tauranga about the time they should have arrived at Waitomo.

An hour later the friends, who had come to New Zealand to study in Auckland, were able to return to Auckland on the bus they had arrived on.

Emma said she complained to the company by email three days ago but had not received a reply.

Emma hoped the company would refund the roughly $90 each woman paid for the return trip, but said it wasn't just about the money.

"I want them to really think about why their system is not complete."

She feared other travellers might also have suffered a similar fate.

Emma said she was disappointed not to have seen the Waitomo Caves and still hoped to visit but said she was unlikely to book a bus trip.

Nakedbus said it was unable to comment yesterday.