"Thank you for your kindness. Kia kaha," was what PM Jacinda Ardern wrote in the guest book at the White House.
The US was indeed kind to her.
Spring had sprung, the grass was riz, to use the words of New York actor and singer Jimmy Durante.
And all the cliched metaphors of that season were appropriate: New Zealand was emerging from the Covid-19 winter and looking for new growth in its relationship with the US after the pause of the Trump era.
The Ardern in the US was a stark contrast to the Ardern we have seen in New Zealand in recent months.
It may have been the simple joy of being somewhere else, or because it is Ardern's practice not to read the news from home while she is abroad, choosing instead to focus on what is in front of her. In the US she is known for having a baby while leader, and for her actions after the mosque attacks.
They do not care if she wants water infrastructure reformed, or about her polling.
So Ardern was relaxed and happy. She spoke off the cuff at events, laughed a lot and was drowned with compliments.
California Governor Gavin Newsom (the man they say might be president), Microsoft's Brad Smith, the students and heads of Harvard University, and the actual President, Joe Biden, were all effusive about her - far beyond than the usual exchanges of pleasantries.
The US paid dividends for Ardern and for New Zealand – but that could also come at a cost.
Ardern has returned to wait to see how China will respond to the kindness shown to her - and by her - in the US.
And there is increasing chatter than her trip could have been something of a tipping point in that regard.
Ardern has been tip-toeing, but she has gone closer and closer to the US over the past months as China's counter attempts to secure deals with Pacific Island countries ratchet up.
She has not said NZ sides with the US in such blunt terms, but she has come pretty close to it with her statement that NZ's allegiances are with "like-minded countries" who share New Zealand values.
New Zealand may well have been like-minded with the US on aspects of China's actions – but it has not been like-voiced, until now.
The Joint Statement issued after the Ardern and Biden meeting may well prove to be that tipping point.
The words used in that were blunt and extensive in chronicling the concerns both countries have about China - and using the US' framing to do so.
It earned Ardern a sharp reminder from China to remember New Zealand's long-standing practice of exercising an independent foreign policy rather than falling in behind the US.
The trouble with that is that China assumes New Zealand's "independent foreign policy" will somehow always equate to holding its punches on China. It increasingly looks like that may not be the case.
One of the more ominous signs in the week was a warning from Trade Minister Damien O'Connor, later echoed by Ardern, that export businesses needed to have a Plan B and possibly even a Plan C at such times.
It is not a new suggestion. There has long been concern New Zealand is too reliant on China and needs to diversify export markets more. But there appears to be more urgency to the message now.
Covid-19 and the volatility of the global economy and supply lines are among the reasons given for exporters need to diversify.
But O'Connor also listed the potential for geopolitical tensions disrupting usual trade: meaning China.
In recent months there has been new urgency in getting the EU trade deal done and the UK trade deal up and running so if China starts closing its doors, there are backups.
The US will not necessarily be one of them. Ardern made it clear the CPTPP was still NZ's primary desire. But her tone on that changed at the time of her meeting with Biden - she moved to the bird in the hand is worth two in the bush strategy.
That was to make the most of what was on offer, rather than what NZ wished was on offer: Biden's new Indo Pacific Economic Framework.
That is still in its infancy, and Ardern's visit to the White House was partly aimed at trying to add some backbone into it when it came to securing better, or at least easier, access to the US for NZ products.
It's a diversion from usual New Zealand practice, which is to hold out for a comprehensive trade deal rather than settle for something less.
Ardern's own spoken words on this trip have been more nuanced and couched than the written words in the Joint Statement.
At one point, Ardern even almost defended China before her meeting with Biden, pointing out China had built relations steadily with Pacific countries over many years while the US interest had waxed and waned.
The thing with that statement is the US interest in New Zealand has also waxed and waned.
The trouble with the US is that a change in administration can undo years of relationship building overnight, as New Zealand – and the Pacific region - found out with Trump.
Ardern's visit to the White House was important in resetting that for New Zealand.
Judging from the laughter and banter, Biden seemed to be genuinely warm with Ardern – and if you have two leaders who get along and are comfortably with each other politically, you make the most of it while it lasts.
New Zealand does not have the money or the size to take it for granted the country will be included in things. Getting into a president's eyesight can help ensure you are considered and, if the regard is high enough, listened to.
At the moment, Ardern is one of the Western leaders still on constructive terms with China. It has made warning noises after this week.
She might need to consider adding China to her travel schedule.