A spot just opened up yesterday on the Milford, so I jumped it and booked
It's not really the preferred date we had in mind, but at least it's while we're there. From what I understand, visiting NZ without the Milford track is like visiting Paris without seeing the Eifel tower..
I can understand your attitude to the great walks, but we decided to do a few of them anyway because
a) they aren't called 'Great Walks' for nothing
b) my girlfriend isn't that experienced with multiple-day hikes, so we'd rather go for the easier ones, which tend to be the well maintained great walks.
The other great walk we wanted to do was the Routeburn, according to the pictures and descriptions this must be quite fantastic in terms of scenery.
I also did the Kepler in 2005, which was superb. We did it over christmas, so there was almost no-one on the track. Also, since finish and starting point coincide, you don't have tricky logistics as in the Routeburn or Hollyford.