A mother-of-four children was "in the grips of an extended drinking binge" when her four young children were found walking along a busy Hamilton street on their own.
The 24-year-old woman put her children, all aged under 5, to bed before going partying and leaving them with her brother who was in the house, Fairfax reported.
Her brother went to work at 5am the next day thinking the woman had returned home.
But about 11am that day four children were spotted walking along the road and the two youngest were only wearing nappies, according to Fairfax.
The children were taken into CYFs care but it was not until the woman returned home 12 hours later that she realised the children were no longer at the house.
Her brother had returned home at 5pm and did not realise the children were not with her as he had not been asked to care for them.
The children had conjunctivitis, runny noses, ear infections and one had school sores on their legs, arms, torso and face. They were also hungry and thirsty.
The woman was sentenced at Hamilton District Court on Friday to nine months' supervision and 150 hours' of community work, Fairfax reported.
Judge Glen Marshall told the woman she had used drinking as a coping mechanism and said it "is also pretty self-indulgent".
"I treat this at the lower end of the scale ... but there was the potential for catastrophe.
"You were drunk this time and a good deal before that as well. You should have clicked [your children] needed to go somewhere else if you weren't looking after them, because you were not doing that yourself."
He noted the woman had sought help, was no longer drinking and was now in a good relationship living in Auckland.
As part of her sentencing, the woman was also ordered to continue undergoing rehabilitation and counselling.