It was meant to be Friday night with friends, the kids were in bed, and they were sitting down for a late dinner.
The fire alarm suddenly goes off, they quickly move to find smoke coming out of a bedroom.
They grab the children from their beds and move everyone out to safety with nothing but the clothes on their back and their phones in their pockets.
"Some of us didn't even have our shoes on it was that quick."
The young South African family had been reunited after 18 months after their migration to New Zealand was disrupted by the pandemic, and their 2-and-a-half-year-old son only met his dad a year ago.
The last week has been "completely surreal" for them, the father, who only wanted to be known as Mr Van Norrdwyk said.
"You don't realise how many things you have or own until you literally have nothing."
"We came in with a fire extinguisher minutes later, but it was no use by then. We did not even have time to move the cars," Van Norrdwyk said.
"It was like a dream, so surreal. All we were thinking about was just getting out."
Their house was "totally engulfed in flames" by the time the fire service arrived, despite the prompt response.
"If they hadn't arrived when they did, I'm sure the houses around us would have been damaged."
The women and children walked to a friend's place nearby, while the men helped with the fire hoses.
"If we hadn't had working fire alarms, it's terrible to think what could have been."
The couple had reunited a year ago after 18 months apart due to the pandemic.
Van Norrdwyk had moved to New Zealand from South Africa when his wife was pregnant, and she flew to Germany to be with her parents to have their baby, as she could not get into New Zealand at the time.
Their son was born during this time apart and only met his dad in New Zealand when he was 11 months old.
"It was a special home as it was the first place we could be a family together," he said.
"You could say we have had a challenging time, but we are a strong, resilient family.
"We are grateful to have each other."
They said the neighbours were great, opening their home while the fire was dealt with as it was a cold night and they were barefoot and did not have any blankets for the children.
They are staying with a friend until they can find a place to move to, and their property manager is helping them find a new place.
Their friends have set up a Givealittle page for anyone who wishes to donate. So far, $2200 has been donated.
Van Norrdwyk said the family had been offered "so many items".
As they don't yet have a forever home, and nowhere to store any donations, their friends have set up a donations and message register where people can write down what they are offering.
This way, the family could reach out to the generous people in the community when they had somewhere to move, Van Norrdwyk said.
Van Norrdwyk said the response from the community had been "overwhelming".
"We are still coming to grips with what has happened, so it has been hard to even work out how to respond to the heartfelt kindness and offers of support."
He said offers of clothing, vouchers, baking, dinners, household items had been rolling in which was "so appreciated".
He said the landlord and property manager had been amazing.
"Thank goodness they were on to it with regular fire alarm checks," he said.
"We would also like to thank the fire department who did such an amazing job."
Fire and Emergency risk reduction and investigations manager Todd O'Donoghue said the cause of the blaze was yet to be determined, however it was being treated as accidental.
"This fire spread through the house in a matter of minutes. It's fortunate that working smoke alarms were installed, enabling the occupants to be warned of the fire and escape safely."
O'Donoghue said it was a timely reminder that every house should have smoke alarms installed. The agency recommended them to be installed in every sleeping area, hallway, and living area on every level of a home.
Want to help?
A Givealittle page has been set up where people who wish can offer financial support.
Those who wish to donate items to the family can fill out an online form, and the family can get in touch once they have secured housing.