A bus driver has been charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing the deaths of five people after a tourist bus crash near Rotorua.

The man, a Chinese national, appeared in the Auckland District Court today, where he was remanded without plea until October 4.

"The investigation is still ongoing and police can not rule out further charges being laid," a police spokesperson said.

Four adults and a young child died in the tourist bus crash near Rotorua on September 4.


The tourist bus with 27 people on board rolled on State Highway 5 at Ngatira, 20km northwest of the city, on a stretch of bush-edged road between Waiohotu and Galaxy Rds.

The wounded were treated for injuries at the scene and others flown to hospitals around the North Island.

An aerial view of the bus crash scene. Photo / Westpac Rescue Helicopter
An aerial view of the bus crash scene. Photo / Westpac Rescue Helicopter

Police had said the bus was travelling south towards Rotorua and failed to take a moderate bend. As a result it went to the wrong side of the road, corrected and subsequently flipped.

Bishnal Basnet, who was travelling with his brother and uncle from Te Puke to Hamilton, was among the first people on the scene.

He told the Herald the crash site was chaos with people screaming and crying and trying to get off the bus in heavy rain.

He carried an Asian woman in her 50s on his back away from the bus before the emergency services arrived after 10 or 15 minutes.