A Canterbury mum abandoned her three young children to go on a fortnight's holiday in Australia - and told no one where she was going.

Without warning the mother drove off from her home and headed for Christchurch International Airport leaving her three primary school children, the youngest just 5, in late April, reported the Christchurch Court News.

The woman, who appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday, told no one about her plans but instead sent a text message to her 10-year-old daughter telling her to take care of her younger brothers.

The children were discovered home alone after the woman's former partner got an email saying the woman was leaving and might be suicidal.

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The Christchurch Court News reported when the woman returned from Australia two weeks later she was charged with ill-treating or neglecting the young children by leaving them alone while she went overseas.

The woman, who has name suppression, pleaded guilty and ordered to come up for sentence within a year if called upon. It means she will face no penalty unless she reoffends.

The Christchurch Court News said the woman left for Australia on April 28, saying goodbye to her children before driving off.

Before she boarded her plane the woman replied to a text sent by her young daughter asking what they were having for dinner.

She told her "eat anything" and to make sure her brothers were good and to go to bed, the Christchurch Court News reported.

The mother texted her daughter half an hour before she left the country telling her she was an amazing girl and to never forget that.

Meanwhile, police were asked to do a welfare check following a disturbing email sent to the woman's former partner.

The Christchurch Court News said officers discovered three scared and hungry children home alone with no idea where their mother was. They told police she had said goodbye and left.

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The woman returned to the country on May 10.

The court heard the woman had told no one about her trip or made plans for anyone to care for her children while she was away.

Had the woman's former partner not acted on the email, they may have spent an undetermined time on their own putting them at risk of further harm, reported the Christchurch Court News.

The woman had since gone to counselling and was now able to find help when she needed it.

She had gone through a lot in the past decade which had led to her abandoning her children, said the Christchurch Court News.