Dynamic numerical modelling has been carried out in 2005–2007 to investigate the seismic performance of an 11.66 m span, 7.29 m rise, high profile arch culvert. The horizontal components of three earthquakes were used, scaled for Wellington conditions for 1:500 and 1:2500 year recurrence intervals. The effects of a number of parameters were tested by varying their values. These parameters were the soil shear strength, dilation angle and stiffness (measured as the shear wave velocity), the cover over the culvert, the presence and size of concrete stiffening beams and whether or not slipping occurred between the soil and the culvert. Seismic deformation, structural bending moments and axial forces were examined, along with their relationship to earthquake peak ground velocity, peak ground acceleration and the Arias Intensity. It was found that the peak ground velocity and therefore the ovalling of the culvert were not useful in design. Soil shear strength (friction angle and whether it was cohesive or not) affect maximum seismic structural bending moments and thrusts more than soil stiffness. Maximum structural seismic bending moments were usually controlled by maximum construction bending moments.