Sarah Saunders and Melody Steyn are best friends who have never seen each other.
Both lost their sight from complications arising from Type 1 diabetes, changing their worlds forever.
Thanks to a chance meeting they're now inseparable.
"We joined a group at the Blind Foundation for young mums with kids who are blind and we were the only two," said Melody.
"We have so much in common on the surface, like the diabetes and the blindness - there's a real understanding.
"If you're somewhere and you've done something, or you're lost on the boardwalk, or physically stuck in your wetsuit - that has happened - there's someone there that just gets it, that understands the frustrations that come with not being able to see.
It's a bond that really does link you."
Both were young girls when they received their diabetic diagnoses. Sarah was 12 years old and Melody 6.
Later in life Sarah's blindness came on "pretty quick".
"I had some bleeds behind the eye, had some operations to try and fix it, but I essentially got told that this is it. This is as good as it's going to get. I was 32."
Melody said she was about 28 years old and pregnant in coastal South Africa when she went blind.
Both struggled to comprehend their new reality, with Melody avoiding social situations.
"That white cane meant everybody could see I'm vulnerable," she said.
"I had a huge mental block about being out where people could see that I was blind."
Sarah said she felt her world had ended.
"I was very, very depressed for a long time," she said.
Despite their new realities, both women were determined to not let their disabilities define them.
"I remember deciding that I was going to take my children to school," Melody said.
"I felt that I was alive again. I wouldn't have been able to do that back in South Africa. I did it here and I feel like I'm actually having a life."
Melody relocated to New Zealand in 2016 with her family.
For Sarah inspiration came from Blind Low Vision NZ (formally the Blind Foundation).
"I essentially got told by the first person to teach me how to use a cane, that this is not the end, it's the beginning.
"I was made to join a small group at the Blind Foundation where I met an amazing woman my age – also a diabetic – and she was pregnant at the time and raising a small child and I thought if she can do stuff, so can I," Sarah said.
"It was a relief that I wasn't alone,"
"It wasn't just me. There was somebody else I can talk to and will genuinely understand what I'm going through."
Both women now train regularly to help with their recovery and they also enter several events for people with disabilities.
Physical Impact personal trainer Strini Naidoo said they were not treated like blind girls.
"To me they're athletes, we treat them like athletes," he said.
"Their focal point is to get fit, get strong.
"They've got a few competitions and they're driven by what they want to do and we're here to just help that process along."
Local disability group Parafed began advertising adaptive surfing lessons but Melody was hesitant to get back on a surfboard for the first time since going blind.
Sarah convinced her to give it a go.
"I said, 'no way'. I'll come with you and sit on the beach.
Thankfully Melody's friends didn't let Sarah sit on the beach.
"They got me in a wetsuit, got me in the water and I was no good, but I had fun," she said.
Sarah had never surfed before she went blind and said it would have been harder if she had surfed.
"I'm learning to do it without eyesight so I don't have that preconception of, 'I must look for this, I must do this'.
"It's all done through feel. I can feel the water moving past my fingers, I can stand up now."
For Melody surfing blind is much harder.
"It's almost like two different things - surfing with your eyes and surfing without them.
"Surfing now is a lot harder because I used to watch everything - the swell, the waves."
Bay of Plenty organisations such as Parafed and Achilles were pivotal in helping them come to terms with their new life.
"I'd been living at the beach for 15 years and I didn't go in when I could see, so why not give it a go now?" Sarah said.
"I can't see the sea creatures that scared me before or seaweed. So I thought I'd have a go and it turned out I really liked being in the water and the waves.
"Now that I'm doing it I think, 'Why didn't I do it before?'. It's so much fun."