Emma Taylor's trip to the United States was exciting in itself, but the best bit was getting to share the experience with the girl she had known only through Skype.
Last month, 14-year-old Emma took her first overseas trip to Los Angeles to meet her penpal Abby Fletcher.
The eight-day trip was made possible by Make-A-Wish New Zealand, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Emma has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that affects organs in the body, most commonly the lungs, by clogging them with thick, sticky mucus.
Emma and mum Angela flew out on September 12.
She had to be on oxygen during the flight and though the machine worked fine while she was awake, Mrs Taylor said when she went to sleep it kept turning off, which was a bit concerning, but soon fixed.
However, once they landed everything went to plan. A white stretch limousine with Emma's name surprised them at the airport and took them to the hotel.
Only a few hours later, Emma got to meet her friend.
Emma said she had been a little nervous about finally getting to meet Abby, with whom she has been emailing, skyping and texting for about two years.
"It was really weird, she was exactly as I imagined. She was just Abby."
Within five minutes Mrs Taylor said the girls were acting as if they'd known each other a lifetime.
When Abby and her mother left for the night, Mrs Taylor said Emma just stood staring at the door.
"She said ‘I can't believe it, I've just met Abby'."
The girls and their mothers went to Disneyland the next day.
"It was awesome, it was so cool," Emma said.
The best part was that Make-A-Wish had given her a "special" pass that meant she never had to wait in a line.
"One ride was shut on the first day [we went] and on the second day there was a 50-minute queue, but we just went straight up; it was so cool."
Then they drove up the coast to Modesto for a few days with Abby's family, through Hollywood, stopping to see the Walk of Fame, through Beverly Hills and stopping in Malibu for dinner.
A tram ride through the Yosemite National Park and a day in San Francisco rounded off their trip.
Saying goodbye at the airport was hard, Emma said. There were big hugs and lots of tears.
The girls were back talking on Skype less than a day later and Emma said she is already saving up for her next trip to see Abby again.
Both Emma and Abby were heard saying "this is the best week of my life", Mrs Taylor said.
Emma said she was incredibly thankful to Make-A-Wish and that the trip amazing.
- © Fairfax NZ News