The Milford Track was fully booked out 6 months in advance and I thought I'd save R3000 anyway by exploiting DOC's rule that you are allowed to camp for free at least 500m off the track. This is very difficult to do on the Milford since it is almost entirely contained by glacially-carved valleys where you hit a cliff before the required 500m. But I did my research and found a perfect spot about 10km into the hike.
In order to skip the ferry to the start (and to get some more adventure), I slogged up and over Dore Pass, which was quite a challenge with a heavy backpack. The route doesn't really have a path but is occasionally marked with orange tags. It reminded me so much of a Berg pass with the initial bundubashing and boulder-hopping up the river :)
Spectacular views over the Clinton Valley at the top and then quite a frustrating 900m descent through thick forest with plenty of tree-fall. Once I was on the Milford (huge manicured path), it was just a matter of finding the right spot to wade across the river and bundubash up to my scouted spot. Perfect!